President Barack Obama on Friday afternoon closed out his post-State of the Union, three-state tour with a unusually personal speech in his hometown of Chicago, Ill. There, he advocated the need for strong families as well as successful and safe communities to help create upward mobility for the nation's most impoverished.
Obama, speaking at Chicago's Hyde Park Academy, called for the promotion of marriage and fatherhood, contrasting the two-parent household with his own upbringing.
"Don't get me wrong," he said. "As the son of a single mom who gave everything she had to raise me with the help of my grandparents, you know, I turned out okay." Obama commended the single mothers in the audience, but added, "At the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved."
Obama's father, a central figure in his memoir "Dreams of My Father," and Obama's mother divorced shortly after Barack Obama's birth.
The Chicago visit completes the president's three-state tour to promote the proposals and themes he laid out in the State of the Union, including: universal pre-school; raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour; and the revitalization of neighborhoods—including 20 to be labeled "Promise Zones"—with the help of federal assistance.
Strong communities, he said, are needed to help promote upward mobility—part of an effort to build "ladders of opportunity."
Obama added, "Government alone can’t solve these problems of violence and poverty ... everybody has to be involved."
The president also spoke about the recent gun violence in Chicago where the murder of high-school student Hadiya Pendleton, who had performed at Obama's inauguration about one week prior to her being killed by gunfire, caught the attention of the nation as well as the White House.
First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya's funeral, and Hadiya's parents sat with the first lady during the president's State of the Union on Tuesday.
Obama said Friday that Chicago's gun violence rate is "the equivalent of a Newtown every four months," referencing the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The president pressed his manufacturing proposals in Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday and advocated for his universal preschool program Thursday in Decatur, Ga.