President Obama Meets With Former Gang Members From Homeboy Industries
President Barack Obama paid a visit to Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries and four former gang members on Thursday. Homeboy Industries was founded by Father Boyle in 2001 and works to reduce recidivism among young people who were previously in jail for gang-related activities, as well as prevent at-risk youth from getting involved with gangs.
As part of Obama's L.A. visit, he spent about 10 minutes with Boyle and four young men, all 18 to 19 years old, after his speech at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, L.A. Times reports. This was part of his My Brother's Keeper initiative, which aims to match young men of color with mentors and support networks to help them attend college and/or find employment.
Boyle told the Times that the men were excited to meet the president. "Before we were on the way, they were saying not even rappers get to meet with the president of the United States. Not even Lil Wayne—I don’t know who that is—not even Lil Wayne gets to meet with the president of the United States."
During the meeting, Boyle said that Obama talked to them about how he too was raised by a young, single mother and had gotten into trouble—though he admitted he was "good at not getting caught."
In a release, Boyle said:
"President Obama showed genuine interest in them and their lives. It was heartwarming to see the faces of my four homies when the President of the United States shook their hand and looked them in the eye to encourage them to stay on the right path."
Obama also posed for photos with the young men.
Homeboy helps its clients with education, counseling, legal issues, tattoo removal and finding employment. One particular program pays for Homeboy clients to learn how to install solar panels. Another program involves Homegirl Cafe & Catering in Chinatown, where clients work in the kitchen and serve coffee, breakfast and lunch, and the Homegirl Diner on the second floor of L.A. City Hall.