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L.A.-area lawmaker joins Obama in initiative for minority youth

SACRAMENTO--Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) was at the White House on Thursday for the unveiling of President Obama's new program to help young men of color.

The initiative, called "My Brother's Keeper," brings together government agencies, philanthropic foundations and businesses to improve the lives of young black and Latino men, in an aim to stop the "school-to-prison pipeline."

Bradford chairs the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, which has examined disparities in health, economic opportunity and education for minorities. 

"History shows how the justice system and the educational system has challenged both boys and men of color," Bradford said in an interview. 

Bradford said he looked forward to sharing his input for the national initiative and that wants to see an action plan -- "not just talk" -- and federal resources devoted to improving opportunities for minority youth.

Obama has faced some criticism from television host Tavis Smiley, academic Cornel West and others for not doing enough to address the challenges facing black people.

Bradford said he too would have liked to see the matter brought to the forefront earlier. "Without a doubt," he said. But he noted that past presidents did little.

"What we're seeing here is not new to this administration," Bradford said. "I won't fault [Obama] on not dealing with this initially," adding that he's glad the president is taking on the issue now.

Also at the White House for the initiative's announcement were former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and basketball star-turned-businessman Magic Johnson.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

Twitter: @melmason

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