President Obama Reflects on Race and His Upbringing

The documentary highlights president's initiative to mentor young men of color.

ByABC News
June 19, 2015, 2:46 PM

— -- President Obama reflected on growing up as a young black man and relayed the example he hopes to show other boys and young men of color in a new documentary.

“I want every young man who sees me to know that I’m not that different from them. I wasn’t born into wealth. I wasn't born into fame. I made a lot of mistakes but I kept at it,” the president said in the Discovery documentary, “Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper.”

The president touted the work of the My Brother's Keeper initiative, which aims to help struggling boys and young men of color succeed.

“I always see myself in them. I do know what it means to come of age uncertain about your place and not clear about what it means to become a man and not having as much guidance, despite the extraordinary love of my mom and my grandparents, and getting in trouble and making bad decisions. It’s useful for them to hear from somebody who’s come out on the other side of it that the challenges they are going through are not exceptional,” he said.

The interview was conducted last month and scheduled to air as part of the documentary this weekend, but the release comes just two days after a 21-year-old man killed nine people in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina -- a moment the president used to call on Americans to reflect on the prevalence of mass shootings and racial tension.

The documentary tells the story of Chicago, Baltimore and California communities that have implemented the My Brother’s Keeper program. “Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper” will air on the Discovery Channel and OWN this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.