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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs