(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

The Grio was at the White House Friday for the president’s focus on the responsibilities of fatherhood. Earlier in the day he spoke at “Year Up,” a non-profit organization that equips young people for higher-education or professional work.

At the White House, the president welcomed a panel of fathers and an audience of young adults and children to a town hall meeting. He said he hopes more fathers will be participants in their kids’ lives and implored young men to be present for their own children.

The president also addressed how the black community is effected by absent fathers.

“Twenty-three percent of young people are growing up without father, in the African American community it’s close to fifty percent, maybe a little over depending on the stats you look at. So there is a real crisis going on in the African American community on this issue.”

“If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up,” Obama said. “We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception. What truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and investing in that child. We need fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives not just when it’s easy, not just during the afternoons in the park or the zoo, when it’s all fun and games. But when it’s hard, when young people are struggling.”

He added, “If there’s one last thing I want to communicate to those fathers who maybe haven’t been involved in their child’s life, it’s to emphasize that this is not an obligation, it’s a privilege to be a father.”

The day continued with a cookout on the south lawn of the White House. The youth participated in mentorship circles where they spoke with dads and other role models.

Hip-hop legend DMC of the rap group Run DMC was also on hand to mentor some of the kids.

“These kids are looking at their role models their elders of their community disrespecting women, not handling their business, not making importing those things that it takes to be a strong African American man. These kids in our community don’t see men,” the rapper said.