MADISON — Today, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes spoke to young men in the Milwaukee Public School System at Camp Rise, a summer enrichment program aimed at preventing violence in Milwaukee.
Read excerpts from his remarks below:
Thank you for being a part of this program.
There was a program called Be The Change that I had the opportunity to participate in back in 2011.
Having the opportunity to speak here today gives me joy because these opportunities aren’t always available.
My name is Mandela Barnes and I’m proudly serving as the 45th Lt. Governor of Wisconsin. I want to let you all know, since I’m speaking to a group of young people, that I’m the youngest person to serve in this office since the 1800s.
I’m only saying that to let you know that one day, you can do that too.
You can at least do this. You can do way more than I have done.
And too often we don’t get enough people who tell us what our potential truly is.
The only limits you have are the ones you place upon yourself.
I don’t come from a political family, I don’t come from a rich family.
I come from a hardworking union family… My mom was a teacher in MPS, my dad worked third shift in the factory. That’s how I had the opportunities that I had.
I’m a proud product of Milwaukee public schools… I was born right in this community.
So when people tell you that you can’t, I’m living proof that you can.
You have more power than you’ll ever realize, than you could ever imagine. I’m sitting here telling you because I’m sitting here living it.
When I step into meetings, I often see people who don’t share my experience or look like me, and what I’m thinking about the entire time in those meetings is a room that looks just like this. It’s a room like this that too often is forgotten. That is too often left out of the conversation.
Think about your wildest dreams for a second and imagine if someone said, “no that’s not going to happen.” What are you going to do?
You’re going to keep going, you’re going to try harder. I just want to make sure you think about this every day. Think about how you’re going to continue to try harder.
You being here today, right now, is proving somebody wrong. I can’t even tell you how proud I am and thankful I am for you giving me the chance to speak to you.