This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.
Marvin Ramos found out he was going to be a father when his girlfriend, Stephanie, called him during a basketball game. He says he sat down on a bench and looked up at the sky. He was 16. Stephanie was 19.
The members of the band Lake Street Dive have been making music together for nearly 10 years — but only recently have experienced commercial success. For many years, they toured and sometimes played shows without any audience members.
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Lake Street Dive is two men and two women, all in the neighborhood of 30, who met at the New England Conservatory of Music. As a group they use jazz instrumentation, more or less — trumpet, stand-up bass, guitar, some drums — but they play pop and soul, and draw a big following doing it. In fact, a video of them performing on a Boston street corner has been viewed more than 2 million times.
Five areas across the country have been designated as "Promise Zones" by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas.
In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around.
On Independence Day, ceremonial swearing-in ceremonies of new citizens are traditional — a celebration of the country's past and its evolving future. On Friday, 7,500 people from across the country will take the Oath of Allegiance and become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Most foreign citizens who live in the U.S. are here legally but are not citizens. So on the anniversary of the day when Americans declared themselves no longer subjects of the King of England, what does citizenship means to those who do choose to naturalize?