Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are

Thank you, overseasgranny, for sharing this beautiful, beautiful story about that well-known “evil”, Rahm Emanuel:

When Kathleen Owens began her job last December as a social worker at the Longwood campus of the Chicago International Charter School on West 95th Street, the first child she laid eyes upon was DeJuan Brown.

“I was being given a tour of the school, and there was a little boy sitting by the library, eyes like to cry, a disoriented look on his face,” remembers Owens. “I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ He said, ‘I hate school.’ ”Owens asked who the boy was.“The lady giving me the tour said, ‘Oh believe me, you’ll get to know this kid,’” says Owens. “ ‘You’ll see him every day, because he’s a lot of trouble here. He’s not motivated, very defiant and always getting kicked out.’ ”Owens instructed the boy to find a smile and bring it to her office the next morning.

There, the University of Chicago graduate and the seventh-grader talked — he told her he is interested in government, and Owens told him she was a volunteer at Rahm Emanuel’s Hyde Park campaign office.“He said, ‘Honestly? Are you for real? Do you know Rahm Emanuel is going to make my neighborhood safer?’ ” says Owens. “He literally ran off Rahm’s platform for me. I was completely floored. He knew more about Rahm’s platform than I did.”DeJuan had heard Emanuel’s campaign promises on TV commercials.

“He would be on TV,” says the 13-year-old. “He would talk about how he was going to change the city of Chicago.”Owens asked if he wanted to visit the local campaign office that Saturday.“He was like, ‘Oh, my God, yes, yes!’” Owens says. “I told him to meet me there at 9:30. He was there at 9 o’clock.”

“He’s a skinny guy, quiet — really quiet at first, that’s what caught Rahm’s eye,” recalls Tarrah Cooper, Emanuel’s press secretary. “We were getting ready to canvass the troops, and here was this young African-American kid, but there were no other kids with him. We asked him what he was doing there, and he said, ‘Well, my teacher brought me. I like politics. I want to help.’ ”

“When Rahm walked in, DeJuan was very shy,” says Owens.“I was kinda nervous,” says the teen. “I didn’t know what to say at first. He asked me my name, and I said, ‘DeJuan Brown.’ He asked me if I wanted to go canvassing, trying to get some votes.”“Rahm said, ‘If it’s OK, do you want to knock on doors with us?’ ” says Cooper. “DeJuan really lit up.” It was a cold, snowy day, and they began ringing doorbells in the neighborhood.

“Mostly Rahm said nothing,” says Owens. “This kid rattled off his platform. Rahm stood back, amazed.”Ever since, Emanuel occasionally phones DeJuan, or his mother, or the school.

“Rahm checks on him, sees how his homework is going,” says Cooper.“I was working on a group project with my students a couple of weeks ago. The class phone rang and on the other end was the mayor-elect,” says Cedderick Hunter, a history teacher at Longwood. “Needless to say, it was quite a surprise for me.”

When DeJuan asked Emanuel to visit his school, he did so. On Election Night, DeJuan attended the victory celebration.“As soon as Mayor-elect Emanuel hit the stage, he spotted DeJuan,” remembers Hunter. “[He was] hugging him as if he were his own child.”

“Rahm has remained in contact — I really admire him for that,” says Owens. “Rahm has not let go of this kid, this really has given this kid motivation to go on.”

He helped him tremendously,’’ agrees DeJuan’s mother, Michelle Covington. “Fast-forward to April,” says Owens. “DeJuan has not had one suspension, his grades have gone up, he’s a student leader, he loves school, he’s excited. Everyone walks around the building amazed at how he has turned this kid around, a complete 100 percent transformation.”

“My son is dyslexic,” says Covington. “Rahm motivated him to overcome his obstacles. The stars are the limit.”On Friday, DeJuan got another call from the mayor-elect. “He says, ‘DeJuan, how you doing?’ ” says the teen. “I said, ‘I’m doing fine.’


“They want me to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.”At the May 16 mayoral inauguration? “Yes.”

Anything else?

“He said I could come by the office.”

What advice will he give the mayor?

“Just to stay motivated — like the advice he gave me,’’ says DeJuan Brown. “Do good in school, get good grades, do a good job — that’s the same he could do. Do good at what he’s good at, so people will like him. That’s what he’s doing.”


65 thoughts on “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are

  1. Great find by overseasgranny. I bet Rahm has a close, personal friend that young DeJuan would like to meet in the future as well.

  2. Love this story, Rahm just spreading some love and inspiration around.

    Tried to like it about 5 times but the ‘like’ button wasn’t working for me.

  3. Now that is special. Thank you for sharing it.


    Though, I’m not surprised that Mayor-elect Emanuel did what he did. He could not be as close to President Obama as he is and be any other way.

  4. The Obama Diary (in the blog roll) has the pics from President Obama visiting the Colorado Class who’s mother he quoted in the Budget Agreement Announcement last Friday.

  5. Wow! Kudos Mayor-elect Emanuel! It’s time for more men and women in Chicago, and in America, to mentor other young men and women. Most people would be surprised how much of a difference it makes in the life of a child when an adult who is not related to him/her reaches out to him/her. These kids remember you for the rest of their lives. I’ve been retired from teaching for going on two years now, and students still contact me and say that they miss me. I didn’t teach many of them, but I devoted just a bit of time to letting them know that someone cares, and they matter in this world. I’m so proud of M-e Emanuel, and I’m proud of DeJuan for discovering that he is important, and that he can make a contribution to the world.

  6. Allergies, yes, that’s what they were. Ah well, no one’s ever confused me for a macho man — just ask my wife. 🙂

  7. I am so glad you highlighted this story. When I read it from last thread I thought this is a story to share. Thank you overseasgranny!!!!!

    Now I’ll head over to The Obama Diary to see the pictures!

  8. This is just the best of human nature, thank you to overseasgranny for finding it, and thank you to bwd for highlighting it.

    You can’t make this type of kindness up. I’m super-duper impressed with all of the people mentioned in this story who helped each other: the teacher who helped both the child and Emanuel, and connected the two; the tickled pink campaign manager; Emanuel for reaching out and not letting go; and of course little De Juan for informing himself of the political issues, and then canvassing his neighborhood in order to be the change he wanted to see.

    Just remarkable; that made my day.

  9. Rahm’s a good guy. Now, would it not be something else to see Rahm run for president in 2016 – I would love to see the professional left reaction if he did run and won!

  10. What a beautiful story — Loved reading/knowing about this beautiful little boy, and the wonderful, thoughtfulness by Rahm Emanuel. They have done so much for each other, and will probably be good friends forever. :o)

    Thanks so much!!

  11. This is wonderful. In the spirit of “Open Government”, a new website is launched to address human rights.

    The White House Blog

    Posted by Samantha Power on April 11, 2011 is primarily aimed at increasing the American public’s access to human rights-related information and understanding of our global engagement on these critical issues. We hope that it proves equally valuable to citizens of other nations seeking to promote accountability and change in their own societies.

  12. I loved the part of the SOTU when President Obama did the ol’ Uncle Sam “America Needs You” reference, but was calling for teachers and not soldiers.

    Teachers and Nurses are the unsung heroes of America.

  13. I’m not happy with you BWD …I could have used a warning :)….that was such a wonderful warm story….

  14. Vid from the visit with the Colorado 8th graders –

    (Too bad it seemed to miss when President Obama first appeared for the surprise reax)

  15. With a wife who is a nurse and a son who is a teacher, I agree with you. Plus a son who is a soldier, so I have all the bases covered. Guess I am the slouch of the family.

  16. But But Rahm is a corporatist who hates the left and Obama sold us out. LOL !

    I always liked Rahm. I never understood why the left didn’t like him. Rahm was one of the main guys behind the scenes trying to close Guantanamo by reaching a deal with Lindsey Graham because the ” pure progressives” like Weiner and Sanders were too scared to handle it.

  17. I LOVED his response to the last question: “What is your biggest challenge as President? ” Pure vintage Obama.

  18. He has 4 good years to make a beautiful mark on Chicago. If he succeeds, and I believe he will, he will have strong friends to help him in his run for the WH. Perhaps with a black, female veep? Wouldn’t that be an election to live through?!

  19. Thanks SR for bringing that video over. It was great. He even gave that mother who wrote him about the trip a kiss on the cheek. Swoon!!
    Those kids will remember that meeting forever! Lucky kids! Glad he was able to see the group.

  20. Love, love, love that story!
    found this pic of the victory hug
    (Not sure how this will post)

  21. Such a good idea BWD to highlight this story that came up in the previous thread. SUCH a beautiful, uplifting story.

    I’ve always seen Rahm Emmanuel as a good guy. He has had sometimes different ideas on how to push the progressive agenda forward. But he’s a good man.

    I don’t know if you guys saw his little speech at his “departing” ceremony a few months ago. It was on the White House Youtube Channel. What he said was very moving. Not only the little tribute he gave to President Obama. But the emotion in his voice when he talked about how it was important for him to “give back” for the wonderful opportunities America had given him and his family.

  22. I didn’t know that. Interesting to say the least. Weiner and Sanders ? Really ? Wow.

  23. Obama got another win, The Ivory coast, gbago surrendered. Oh but he should have go involved.

  24. Folks, I’m not sure he has the kind of personnality to become POTUS. I don’t think he’d survive one month in that job ha ha ha !

  25. Loved this the first time I read in the morning mish mash and love it the second time reading it now.


  27. I agree. As if I needed verification that the President is the person I believe him to be. Every day I feel as though I know him better, and I have yet to discover any aspect of his character that I did not expect.

    People do choose to surround themselves with friends who reflect who they are. Our President is no different.

  28. All DeJuan needed was a mentor, one of his teachers should have stepped up but they only kicked him out, thank you Mayor Emanuel!!!
    Vee Pea

  29. Can someone help me out, please. This morning BWD wrote something about being upset with Paul Krugman because he did something to our President. I got distracted and never learned what that was. Then a little bit ago while I was trying to catch up on today’s blog and comments, I noticed something on the twitter feed that indicated that Paul Krugman’s lecture today was different than what he said in 2008 and I didn’t click on it and now it’s gone.

    May I have the cliff notes version of what happened, please?

  30. Railroad executive charged with campaign law violations

    A major donor to Gov. Scott Walker was charged Monday with funneling more than $60,000 in illegal campaign contributions through his railroad employees during the last election.

    William Gardner, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., has agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts – one for exceeding the campaign contribution limits and a second for giving company and personal funds to others so they could make political donations. Individuals can give no more than $10,000 to gubernatorial candidates.

    Under the deal, prosecutors are asking that Gardner be sentenced to two years’ probation.

    “Because he was cooperative and accepted responsibility at the outset – providing much of the evidence against himself – we are not recommending jail time,” said Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who investigates election and campaign matters.

    Full article here –


    Gee, I wonder if this guy was tipped off that he was the target of an investigation so he could fess up, get ahead of it and thus get a lighter sentence. I wonder if the DA signing off on this sentence is a Republican.

    And this doesn’t unelect Walker.

  31. Huge news. I bet if there was any reporting in the US MSM it will begin with “In spite of President Obama doing nothing…”

  32. More of this, please:

    Then you’ve got homosexuality, you’ve got Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We have homophobes on our party. That’s disgusting to me. We’re all human beings. We’re all God’s children. Now if they’re going to get off on that stuff—Santorum has said some cruel things—cruel, cruel things—about homosexuals. Ask him about it; see if he attributes the cruelness of his remarks years ago. Foul.

    And no one could confuse Sen. Simpson for Fozzy Bear. (Remember when the PL were incensed over him when he was on the deficit commission.) The GOP is truly destroying itself with these issues. I just hope they don’t take the rest of us with them.

  33. “find a smile and bring it”

    Wow. I’m so glad someone figured out what was in Mr. DeJuan Brown’s head. An amazing young man (so is that Rahm guy).


  34. Shoots on Gingrich for “diddling his secretary” at the exact same time he was condemning Clinton for Lewinsky.

    I know Simpson said some pretty ridiculous things that the nutrooters tried to get him kicked off the Deficit Commission for, but this guy is a loose cannon who doesn’t preach the Republican line and that’s why he was selected by PBO. This guy is a one-liner waiting to happen and would take aim with it at Republicans when he thinks they deserve it. He isn’t a new GOP fringe ideologue by any stretch and I could see PBO adopting many things from the Debt Commission and having the GOP attack it only to have Simpson fire back.

  35. If Hell exists, there’s a special, very low level of it reserved for hypocrites. None of the current crop of putative GOP presidential candidates would get even a first look as serious contenders in any other Western nation. The fact that the troglodytes that vote in GOP primaries are more or less happy with the wares on display just accentuates how far the Party of Lincoln has fallen.

  36. What a beautiful story I am tearing up what the heck? LOL…Thanks for sharing…fabulous!

  37. Rahm keeps this up he’s going to lose that badass rep of his. Seems to me that DeJuan has found his purpose and enthusiasm in life and we’ll be hearing from that young man in the future.

  38. This is what the haters on the left are missing out on – their government being responsive, full of heart, caring about citizens and our future as a country. How they can wallow in their pessimism and poverty of imagination is beyond me, especially when they are so intent on telling the rest of we “dont get it”.

    We are in the midst of an actual Progressive Presidency and many refuse to admit it, to see what it has already done and its potential for the future. Instead they cry about “caving in” because we handed Boehner his ass (ask Limbaugh) and gave up chump change to do it. I’ll take that deal any day.

    What I like about this forum is the ability to interact with people who are confident about what we actually have, and what it to continue. Our nation deserves no less.

    Thank you all for your contributions. I want this forum to continue to be a place of optimism, growth, action and common sense.

    Si se Puede

  39. Except Trump of course. Geez, how lucky are we to have such a towering intellect willing to share his time as our Commander in Chief.

    Could there be any more sign that the GOP is an empty shell than the attention Trump is getting? Ah for the days of Sarah Palin gravitas.

  40. Thank you BWD for that very special touching story of young Dejuan. We really need to do whatever we can to reach our young minority men. I am so proud of Rahm Emmanual for taking the time with this young man. That is what I would love to spend the rest of my life doing. Inspiring young minority men and women to think about their futures and know adults do care.

  41. Beautiful story on Rahm. We never know how our lives with touch others in such beautiful ways. Let us keep loving, respecting, and having compassion for each other. That is one reason I love this site so much, your respectfulness. Thank you all. And a BIG thank you to BWD. We appreciate you so much, BWD.

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