Atlanta (AP) - Filmmaker Spike Lee joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan in issuing a call Monday for more black men to become teachers, making their plea at the country's only all-male historically black college.
The two took part in a town hall meeting at
"Everybody can't be a business major," Lee told the auditorium packed with male high school and college students. "We have to educate ourselves. We have to educate our young black men."
Lee, a Morehouse graduate, said he was influenced most - outside of his own family - by two of his Morehouse professors. Both educators attended Monday's gathering and were asked to stand up to be honored.
"If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation, if you want to make a difference in the life of a child, become a teacher," Obama said in a video address taped for Monday's event. "Our country needs you."
The Education Department also recorded TV commercials with Oprah Winfrey, performer John Legend and others to talk about the influence of teachers on their lives.
The government is working to help students obtain more financial aid for college and to create loan-forgiveness programs once they graduate and commit to teaching,
"The government can't begin to do this alone," he said.
Social activist Jeff Johnson is joining the effort. The MSNBC contributor has launched a task force that aims at putting 80,000 more black male teachers in classrooms across the country in the next four years.
Johnson told the audience that being a teacher isn't considered "cool" in the black community and that perception must change.
"They look at business, engineering and law as professions that will make them better men, but the very profession that determines what the next generation looks like isn't even on their radar," Johnson said.