TheGrio’s 100: Michael Blake, keeping White House open for all

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President Obama calls the newly re-purposed Office of Public Engagement the “front door” of his White House and Michael Blake is the man charged with keeping that door open. The associate director has dedicated himself to the difficult task of finding realistic ways to engage the African-American community and minority businesses.

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A 2004 graduate of Northwestern University’s journalism school, Blake later attended the “Yes We Can” political training program in 2006, where he gained his knack for campaigning. He went on to successfully co-organizing three state house campaigns during the 2006 midterm election and was eventually hired to work for the Obama for America campaign, serving as Deputy Political Director/Constituency Outreach Director in Iowa and Michigan. Now Blake works to keep those same groups the campaign energized in 2008 participating in 2011, through outreach programs such as special public events and blogging initiatives.

Michael Blake is making history … by helping Obama keep his promise to the American people for transparency in government. Blake is constantly seeking to better the exchange of information between politicians and the electorate, and aims to make government function as President Obama challenges it to be – inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsible.

What’s next for Michael?

A steward of political dialogue and discussion, Michael Blake continues to work to discover practical avenues for real solutions to overcome structural inequalities and education disparities in national policymaking. Eventually, he says he seems himself entering into public service.

“I really believe that public service, when it’s done right, is the best way to help people. A lot of people don’t realize, (or) think about that everything that we do in life is impacted by some form of policy. From the concrete that you’re walking on, to the size of the chair that you’re in, to the food that you eat, we don’t think about those things,” Blake said.

In his own words …

“I say that I’m a skinny kid from The Bronx, whose family went from no house in Jamaica to The White House in D.C, who was told that I wasn’t smart enough to get into Northwestern, came from an elementary school was referred to having ‘savage inequalities’ and was told that I was silly for moving to Iowa to try and get President Obama elected,” Blake told theGrio. “Fortunately, those who inspired me reminded me that no person can stop what God has in store.”

On black history …

“Whenever I was in the company of Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, especially after learning of her influence of ensuring a full ‘I Have A Dream’ speech happened on the national mall, and even being around my D.C. mother, Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, I realized that I was apart of the generation who had the chance to still be in the presence of civil rights legends and African-Americans who were still ‘The Firsts.’” Blake told theGrio. “With this opportunity (as outreach director), I had to ensure that I served the president best by educating our people of the opportunities so that more legends and more firsts came down the line. My title, my seat in a historic building, the photos, the meetings are nice, but history was being made when we use that place to change the game for our people for the better…[H]istory is about breaking down barriers and walls that we thought would never come down.”

A little-known fact …

Michael Blake is the first African-American White House Outreach Director for the first African-American President.

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