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Morehouse College 2014 Black Male Summit Takes On Obama’s ‘Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative

By D. Aileen Dodd Special to The Atlanta Voice | 3/21/2014, 3:27 p.m.
Jim Shelton, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education

ATLANTA – The priorities of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to improve the odds of success in school and in life for males of color will be the focus of the 2014 Black Male Summit at Morehouse College, March 28-29.

The two-day summit, which will explore strategies and practices shown to increase high school graduation and college completion rates for black males, rallies some of the nation’s top leaders to discuss educational, economic and psychological issues impacting African American families.

The free conference is being hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and the Morehouse Research Institute. Sessions will be held at The Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at 830 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta.

This year’s summit will feature a distinguished panel of guest speakers including Jim Shelton, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Amy DuBois Barnett, editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine; Damon Williams, senior vice president and chief educational and youth development officer of Boys and Girls Club of America; and Otha Thornton, president of the National Parent Teacher Association.

“The Black Male Summit features speakers and discussions that challenge the status quo regarding how to best educate black males from pre-K through college,” said Bryant Marks, executive director of the Morehouse Research Institute. “Whether it’s universal pre-K, school choice, or the value of higher education, participants are likely to consider new perspectives and make more informed education-related decisions for their children, both male and female.”

Marks will challenge Georgia business leaders, philanthropists, nonprofits and civic groups to invest more time and funds in innovative educational programs that lead to a brighter future for black male students.

The theme for this year’s Black Male Summit is “African American Educational Excellence: Addressing the Socio-Cultural Factors Impacting the Academic Achievement of Development of African-American Males.” Morehouse President John S. Wilson will give opening remarks.

Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Courtney English, chair of the Atlanta school board are also scheduled to participate in the event. Several local teachers, professors and college students will also serve as panelists.

Black Male Summit activities will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday with a discussion on philanthropy and education reform that includes Janine Lee, president of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and Darrlyn Brister, associate director of external relations for the Chick-Fil-A Foundation.

The summit will take an in-depth look at Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative at a community forum at 7:15 p.m. Friday. The initiative seeks to help men and boys of color overcome obstacles in their schools, families and communities that hinder their academic and economic success.

Philanthropists and corporate leaders participating in the national campaign have pledged to invest at least $200 million over the next five years -- on top of $150 million that they have already invested -- to help replicate the most successful programs helping men and boys of color across the nation.

“Business leaders will need to create more mentorships and apprenticeships to show more young people what careers are out there,” Obama said of the initiative. “Tech leaders will need to open young eyes to fields like computer science and engineering. Faith leaders will need to help our young men develop the values and ethical framework that is the foundation for a good and productive life. So we all have a job to do …”

The summit will continue to examine the Obama initiative and discuss the state of African-American education throughout the panels and presentations on Saturday beginning at 9:15 a.m.

The summit’s final session will be held at 3:45 Saturday with a panel on empowering parents, guardians and communities to support African-American educational excellence.

For more information on the 2014 Black Male Summit contact Bryant T. Marks, executive director of Morehouse Research Institute at 404-215-2627.