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Black History Month 2014: Washington Closes Out Month With High-Profile Events

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Black History Month wrapped up this week with some high-profile events in Washington that were meant both to pay tribute to stories of African-American success and to encourage the next generation to aspire to greatness.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was a historic moment Tuesday as current and former African-American senators gathered on stage at the Library of Congress.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina hosted the event. Scott is currently one of two black members of the Senate.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the success on the stage that we hope permeates in the soil condition throughout the country, and I think it will," Scott said.

Former Illinois Sen. Roland Burris said that there aren't enough African-Americans in the Senate.

"The body holds 100. We're 10 or 15 percent of the population, so we should at least three or four more African-Americans in the United States Senate," Burris said.

Washington's focus on the African-American community on this last week of Black History Month didn't end there. On Thursday, the White House launched a program called "My Brother's Keeper." It's aimed at increasing opportunities for young men of color.

The public-private initiative came together after President Barack Obama spent time last year in his home town of Chicago with a violence prevention group called "Becoming a Man."

"President Obama joined our BAM group," said one student. "When he came into our BAM circle, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

That trip led to an invitation to the White House on Father's Day and became the inspiration for the new task force. Foundations have already committed $200 million for the initiative.

"We've pulled together private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith leaders, nonprofits, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success," Obama said.

Obama's critics have, at times, attacked him for not doing enough for African-Americans.
Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois said that the new task force is a start.

"I know he cares about these issues, and I'm positive that he will do whatever he can do to move the agenda forward," Braun said.

It's an agenda driven both by personal incentives and political pressures.

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