SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – During Black History month at the 3rd annual Alden Baptist Men’s Breakfast, song and prayer echoed the message Springfield native Michael Smith came home from the White House to share: the importance of family, love and support in the lives of all children, regardless of race or social status.
“It’s not their kids, but it’s our kids and everyone saying, ‘I will be a mentor. I will be a tutor. I will open my business up and give someone an internship or a job,” Smith told 22News. He said he grew up poor in the Hill-McKnight neighborhood to a single mother, yet he always felt rich in love and support.
“It’s a message that’s resonating with people, and communities are really wanting to act,” Smith said of the more than 150 communities across 48 states now part of the My Brother’s Keeper challenge.
As a Special Assistant to President Obama, Smith runs the president’s initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” It urges Americans to consider it their moral and economic obligation to plan for our future generations and offer the same opportunities for children of all races.
Alden Baptist Church members said they hoped the message they were discussing inside the Church will be spread throughout the streets of Springfield to make a difference in many young children’s lives. It resonated with 10 year-old Joshua Rucks-Smith and his 7-year-old brother Jacob.
“I listen and I don’t do anything bad just like what my brother does. He always does good and so do I,” Jacob Pease said.
“We should love one another and love our brothers and sisters and family and we should listen to one another because it might be important to us,” his 10-year-old brother Joshua told 22News.
Smiling as he looked on, Smith said, “This is why I do what I do. It’s for these guys and I know with these guys, we’re doing something right.” He hopes if everyone treats each other like a brother, there will be less crime and more opportunity.
You can find out more about the program here.