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NEW YORK — President Barack Obama spread messages of personal responsibility and unity at the 20th anniversary of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention today before a host of notable figures in politics, sports, and entertainment.

“We have to work much harder as a people. We have to step up our game,” said Obama. “If we want to attract new jobs and opportunities, we have to make sure we can outcompete the rest of the world.”

The convention’s first day focused on the themes of education, violence, and unemployment with panelists from Obama’s cabinet such as Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

Obama touched on the prevailing issue of Black unemployment which was a highly talked about topic throughout the day.

“If there is high unemployment amongst Black and Latino men, that’s an American problem because we are all one people.”

But Obama reserved most of his speech for what seems to be a big issue in his reelection campaign, education, calling it the “civil rights issue of our time.”

“When there’s an achievement gap amongst students of different races, that an American problem,” said Obama. “If there are too many kids dropping out of school that are Black, that’s an American problem.

RELATED: Sharpton: “Convention Is About Action, Not Speeches”

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