President Barack Obama gave a rousing speech to the NAACP in honor of the organization's 100th anniversary Thursday, praising the strength of past civil rights leaders, whose sacrifice, he said, "began the journey that has led me here."

While Obama's presidency is proof of the tremendous ground that the American civil rights movement has traveled, Obama was quick to caution that racism is by no means a thing of the past. "Make no mistake," he said. "The pain of discrimination is still felt in America."

He continued to point out that in the current economy, black people suffer a high unemployment rate with a greater instance of illness, and less health insurance overall. Still, he urged parents in the black community to maintain their responsibilities as educators and leaders.

"Yes, if you're African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that someone in a wealthy suburb does not,' Obama said. "But that's not a reason to get bad grades, that's not a reason to cut class, that's not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands – and don't you forget that. To parents, we can't tell our kids to do well in school and fail to support them when they get home. For our kids to excel, we must accept our own responsibilities."

The President has a penchant for drawing on pop icons to bring cultural relevance to his oratory, often referencing popular artists or athletes, as he did in front of the NAACP.

"They might think they've got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can't all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States."