Obama to give Father's Day message East of the River
By Hamil R. Harris
For the last five years the Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus has been a cultural oasis in an often forgotten part of the nation's capital often referred to as "East of the River." And so, there was much excitement among community leaders as they gathered at the center less than two hours before President Obama will come to THEARC to talk about responsible fatherhood.
This will be the president's second visit to THEARC. Obama came to the campus three years ago to promote his anti-poverty message during his Democratic primary campaign.
"It is beyond compare that the president would come back to THEARC," said Edmund Fleetan, the center's executive director. "He came here as a candidate, but to come here as president shows that he really cares for people East of the River."
According to the center, more than 2,000 children and parents are enrolled in programs at THEARC, a nonprofit that opened in 2005 to serve residents in the Southeast community. Programs include Boys and Girls club activities, dance, art and music lessons and community events.
The White House is using the event in part to shore up ties with the local faith community. Area religious leaders sitting in the audience include the Rev Judy Talbert, pastor of Faith Tabernacle of Prayer; Bishop Michael V. Kelsey of the New Samaritan Baptist Church; and Bernard Richardson of the Howard University School of Divinity.
Regardless of what the president says in his address, Dwayne A. Crawford, senior vice president of 100 Black Men of America, said, Obama's own actions as a parent are also important: "It is clear that President Obama works hard at being a good father."
Hamil R. Harris
June 21, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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