Barack Obama Praises Marcus Rashford For Anti-Poverty Campaigning
Footballer Marcus Rashford has been praised by former US president Barack Obama for his notable anti-poverty campaigning.
The Manchester United player, 23, spearheaded efforts to fight child food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic, causing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to U-turn not once, but twice. He’s since been appointed an MBE and set up a book club to help disadvantaged children get into reading.
Recently, Rashford met with Obama, 59, over Zoom, thanks to the publishers Penguin, to discuss the ex-POTUS’s A Promised Land memoir, being a ‘positive force’ in local communities and how much work young people can do.
As per BBC News, Obama said: ‘A lot of the young people I meet – including Marcus – they’re ahead of where I was when I was 23. They’re already making changes and being positive forces in their communities.’
‘Even if you do something positive on a small scale, that’s making a difference, and it’s the accumulation of people doing positive things over time that makes us a little bit better with each successive generation,’ he added.
Obama also said if he had ‘more talent I would have probably preferred to be a professional athlete, like Marcus’ when he was younger, rather than pursuing politics. However, praising young people and how they can rally a movement, Rashford said they ‘don’t understand how powerful their voice is.’
Discussing how it felt to be in such an incredible meeting, Rashford said: ‘When President Obama speaks, all you want to do is listen. I mean, it’s quite surreal isn’t it? I’m sitting in my kitchen in Manchester, speaking to President Obama. But immediately he made me feel at ease.’
‘It wasn’t long before I realised just how aligned our experiences as children were in shaping the men you see today – adversity, obstacles and all,’ he added.
The pair also discussed reading and how important it is for young people to find a way into books, especially from a young age. Obama recounted his mother ‘planting this love of reading’ when he was young.
For Rashford, books allowed him to forge his own ideas. ‘Rather than someone telling me to do this and do that – books allowed me to do it my own way,’ he said.
Rashford’s efforts saw 1.7 million children being supported by a £520 million government scheme, as well as helping other projects to deliver 130 million meals.
Obama and Rashford’s full conversation will be released on Penguin UK’s YouTube channel at 2.00pm today, May 28.
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