US President Barack Obama has told America's oldest civil rights organisation that African Americans should take charge of their lives. He said there were "no excuses" for ethnic minority children not to work hard and succeed. Mr Obama's comments came in a speech at a dinner marking the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

It is Mr Obama's first speech focussing on race since he became US president. Mr Obama told the NAACP dinner that people had to take responsibilities for their lives and their communities. "Government programmes alone won't get our children to the promised land - we need a new mindset, a new set of attitudes," he said.

The president said African American communities had "internalised a set of limitations" and "come to expect so little from the world and from ourselves". But he said African American children should aspire to be scientists, engineers, Supreme Court judges and presidents.

He said there were "no excuses" for African American children not to work hard and aim high. "No one has written your destiny for you - your destiny is in your hands. You cannot forget that, that's what we have to teach our children," he said.

Mr Obama also said he wanted to see a return to strong parenting and adults taking responsibility for the discipline of all children in their community.

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