A Humans of New York post featuring 13-year-old middle school student Vidal Chastanet from Brooklyn that went viral and launched a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $1 million caught President Obama’s eye. In the post, Chastanet talked about how his princpal has influenced him. “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built,” Chastanet told Humans of New York.
“What began on the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn made its way to the Oval Office,” explains the White House blog. Chastanet was invited to the White House along with the school’s principal and Brandon Stanton, the creator and photographer for Humans of New York. The three of them sat down for a chat with Obama that resulted in several posts for Humans of New York, including one in which the president talks about who influenced him the most in his life (his mother) and when he felt most broken (after losing the 1999 election for Congress). This weekend, the White House posted a video of the encounter.