News / USA

President Comforts Flood Victims, Encourages Students in Memphis

President Barack Obama greets well wishers upon arrival in Memphis, Tenn., where he met privately with families affected by flooding, and delivered the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School, May 16, 2011
President Barack Obama greets well wishers upon arrival in Memphis, Tenn., where he met privately with families affected by flooding, and delivered the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School, May 16, 2011
Laurel Bowman

U.S. President Barack Obama spent time Monday in Memphis, Tennessee, a city hard hit by the recent flooding of the Mississippi River.  He also addressed the graduating class of a local high school, giving students there a send-off to remember.  

Graduating seniors at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee got quite a reward for their achievement:  U.S. President Barack Obama as their commencement speaker.  

“Some people will say that schools like BTW [Booker T. Washington] just aren’t suppose to succeed in America," said President Obama. "You will hear them say the streets are too tough in those neighborhoods, the schools are too broken, the kids don’t stand a chance. We are here today because every one of you stood tall and said, 'Yes we can.'”

The students won a national award and the president’s attendance because of their swift academic turnaround.  New programs have led to a sharp rise in graduation rates over the past few years.  Many of the students live in tough neighborhoods where crime and drug addiction are rampant.

“Yes, you have always been underdogs," said Obama. "Nobody has handed you a thing.  But that also means that whatever you accomplish in life, you will have earned it.”

President Obama’s trip to Memphis Monday also included a closed-door meeting with flood victims and emergency responders to the disaster caused by the rising Mississippi River.  Snow melt and rain have sent a torrent of water down the river, which crested at Memphis last week.  Some low-lying neighborhoods are devastated.

Down river in Louisiana, massive amounts of water are rushing though open floodgates into rural areas, away from the more heavily populated cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  

“They are going to do that to save millions of people from the devastation," said Parish President Guy Cormier. "But I don’t care if it’s one person or 25,000 or a million people, when somebody gets affected by something like this, it just tears my heart apart.”

Water from the swollen Mississippi has rushed across what was dry farmland, sweeping up some species of wildlife and unleashing others, like snakes.

Local residents are preparing for the worst.  This man wrapped his house in heavy plastic.  Another homeowner built his own levy.

Whole communities are evacuating.

“She’s doing great, I am doing a little worse I think," said a man.

“This is the house we raised our children in," said a woman. "We would really like to come back to it.”

President Obama’s two-pronged focus Monday allowed him not only to show comfort for the flood victims, but also to draw attention to his education agenda.  

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid