First lady Michelle Obama is growing worried about poorly-educated, obese black children, comparing their lifestyle-driven challenges to the Jim Crow era.
Speaking to the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference at Opryland Thursday, she heralded the civil rights battles for paving progress for African-Americans. But, she added, "today, while there are no more 'whites only' signs keeping us out, no one barring our children from the schoolhouse door, we know our journey is far from finished."
The new hurdle? Bad schools, unhealthy diet, unsafe neighborhoods. The solution: diet, exercise and turning the TV off.
"I mean, what exactly do you do about children who are languishing in crumbling schools, graduating from high school unprepared for college or a job? And what about the 40 percent of black children who are overweight or obese, or the nearly one in two who are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetimes?" she said.
"What about all those kids growing up in neighborhoods where they don't feel safe; kids who never have opportunities worthy of their promise? What court case do we bring on their behalf? What laws do we pass for them?" she added.
With no laws to use to change habits, she told the crowd it's up to them to help the new generation succeed.
"Change absolutely starts with each of us, as individuals, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families because we know that our kids won't grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That's on us," she said. "We know that we won't close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise homework, attend those parent-teacher conferences, and serve as good role models for our own children."