When Obama asks him about his dad, you can just tell that he knows exactly how he feels.

It's not obvious at first, but they have so much in common.

One day, Noah McQueen decided to do something really, truly difficult.

He decided to turn his life around.

Even though he was only 18, Noah had been arrested on more than a few occasions. He'd even been in juvenile detention.


As part of his mission of self-improvement, Noah got involved with My Brother's Keeper, a program dedicated to addressing "persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color."

One day not too long ago, Noah recorded an interview for StoryCorps, a program where regular Americans from all different backgrounds interview each other about their lives.

Usually people are interviewed by their friends, their siblings, or their parents. Sometimes they're interviewed by their husband or wife.

But Noah's StoryCorps interviewer?

THIS GUY!

And even though they don't know each other that well, it turns out they have more than a few things in common.

The most fascinating part is how deeply they connect.

Incredible.

On the obstacles Noah faces everyday, just because of what he looks like:

Noah: "I feel like, as a black man, just me coming on the train over here, I know how we're perceived. I know how people look at us. Every time we step into the room, we have to be on top of your game."

On the burden of being "a success story":

Noah: "People want to say, 'You are the success story.' And it's hard to always make the right decision, and It's hard to always want to be the leader."

On his plans for the future:

Noah: "I want to do education because I do want to work with kids — you know — to see the beginnings and to see where I was and to see the exact same kid doing the exact same thing. And it's like, we owe it to everyone and ourselves to come back and change that. That's our civic duty, I believe."

And here's what President Obama had to say in return:

Obama: "At the age of 18, I didn't know what I was going to be doing with my life. And you shouldn't feel like you can't make mistakes at this point. You're 18 years old; I promise you, you're going to make some more as you go along. But one of the things you've discovered is you've got this strength inside yourself, and if you stay true to that voice that clearly knows what's right and what's wrong, sometimes you're gonna mess up, but you can steer back and keep going."


Not everyone can do what Noah did. But everyone deserves the compassion and empathy Obama showed here in listening to Noah's story without judgment.

That's a story worth hearing and a story worth sharing.

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Courtesy of Houseplant.

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