First lady Michelle Obama gestures while speaking in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, where she hosted a screening of “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” a coming of age story about two inner-city youth who are left to fend for themselves in the Bronx. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is turning a film about two inner-city boys left to fend for themselves into a call for the nation to do more to help young people get the support they need to make it to — and through — college.
The first lady held a White House screening of “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” on Wednesday for educators and others working to help young people make it against long odds. The movie tells the story of two boys in New York left to take care of themselves.
The movie “should begin the conversation that is already happening about what we have to do to invest in kids in this community,” the first lady said. “Because there are millions of Mister and Petes out there who are just struggling to make it.”
Singer Alicia Keys, the movie’s executive producer, also was on hand for the screening at the White House. An Associated Press interview with Keys after the event was abruptly halted by one of her assistants, and the reporter was ushered out of the vehicle where the interview occurred, as it left the White House grounds, because the handler said she objected to the type of questions the reporter was asking. The reporter had asked Keys whether she would attend Mrs. Obama’s birthday celebration later this week and about Mrs. Obama’s impact as she turns 50, in addition to questions about the film and about education.
Mrs. Obama pointed to President Barack Obama’s goal that the U.S. have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, and pledged to make education an ongoing focus for the rest of her tenure in the White House.
“Everybody else is going to be talking about resources, but the one thing I can bring to this is the message that we can give directly to young people,” she said.
“I’m going to tell them that they have everything they need to succeed already,” she said. “It’s all in there, but they still have to be committed to getting their educations.”