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Emanuel Becomes Emotional As He Discusses Challenges Facing Chicago Youth

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Mayor Emanuel on Thursday appears at a news conference to publicize Becoming a Man, a mentoring project. (CBS)

Mayor Emanuel on Thursday appears at a news conference to publicize Becoming a Man, a mentoring project. (CBS)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – The death toll of young Chicagoans to urban violence appears to be taking a toll on the mayor.

In the days since the murder of 15 year-old Hadiya Pendleton, Rahm Emanuel has twice been overcome with emotion.

On Thursday, there were tears in his eyes as he talked about violence plaguing inner-city youth.

It happened when CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine asked the mayor about his own experiences growing up in Chicago.

A Vanity Fair article that excerpts a biography written by the mayor’s older brother, Zeke, talks about how Rahm and his younger brother, Ari, faced the issues of race and violence early on at Foster Avenue Beach.

“After a few days in the sun, Ari and Rahm could pass for African-Americans, which led to the occasional dustup,” the article says.

But Rahm and Ari Emanuel came away with cuts and bruises, not bullet wounds suffered by some of those in the Becoming a Man, BAM, program highlighted Thursday.

“Every one of these young men face adversity,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference.

BAM participant Marcus Norris says the program has turned his life around.

“I got shot before and I could have died or went the wrong route, but this program brought me to my senses, and I stay in school and do good,” he says.

Emanuel says it’s how you face the challenges in life that helps define who you are.

“When you’re set back when you’re down on your luck, do you become angry, bitter, or do you learn, pick yourself up and set your sights on greater achievement?” the mayor said.

Dontavious Smith’s older brother was shot dead by an unknown gunman.

Now, due to the BAM program, he is getting decent grades, talking about his life to others and even tutoring students who need help.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says additional financial support will expand the Becoming a Man mentoring project from 600 to 2,000 at-risk teens.

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