I have committed my life to closing the opportunity gap for boys and men of color. Twenty-two years ago, I founded the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, an in-school dropout prevention/mentoring program with the goal of saving minority boys from the pits of destruction, drugs, and the criminal justice system. The program has received national recognition since its inception in 1993, and played a major role in the formulation of America’s Promise born from The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future held in Philadelphia in April 1997.
Our government has never issued a national call to address the crisis facing boys of color, until now.
I founded the Congressional Black Caucus’ “My Brother's Keeper” taskforce to support President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. The outcomes from the President’s initiative will impact every individual and every community because it includes investing in America’s human capital, our youth.
President Obama has elevated these efforts and conversations to the national stage. As a nation we must thank and rally behind him to ensure the initiative is a success.
To learn more about President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" Initiative and how you can get involved, click here.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Brings Mothers and Families of Murdered Children to the Nation’s Capital for the Congressional Black Caucus “My Brother’s Keeper” Town Hall Meeting
Posted by: Carma Henry Posted date: October 09, 2014
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, recently brought together, for the first time in the nation’s capital, mothers and family members of murdered children for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation My Brother’s Keeper town hall meeting on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. Rev. Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC’s Politics Nation, served as moderator. Broderick Johnson and Jim Shelton, co-chairs of the White House “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, served as panelists.
The families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell and Eviton Brown participated in a series of panel discussions along with law enforcement officials, educators, community leaders, clergy and other stakeholders. Marian Tolan, mother of Robbie Tolan who was shot outside his home by a Bellaire, Texas police officer after he and his family feels he was racially profiled. Just recently, a U.S. Supreme Court Justices—in a unanimous decision—ordered the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a lawsuit filed by Robbie Tolan. Texas. Tolan says the ruling means he will have a chance to argue before a jury that Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton, a white officer, racially profiled him and mistreated Tolan’s family because of their races. It’s a claim that Tolan, the son of former major league baseball player, Bobby Tolan, and his family fiercely support. Queen Brown, lives in Miami. Her son Eviton Brown was shot and killed by someone targeting her nephew. Eviton was with his cousin when he was shot and killed a few years ago. His mother started a support group and travels around the country speaking about violence and the murders of Black boys and men. Sabrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Congresswoman; Shelia Jackosn-Lee (Texas); Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a NYC police officer; Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell, shot and killed by New York police officers a day before his wedding and Lesley McSpadden, mother of 18 year old Michael Brown who was recently shot and killed by white police officer in Ferguson, MO.
Commentary: Saving Our Sons – A Call to Action
There are proven solutions to the problems afflicting Black men and boys. It’s time to start applying them.
The best way to honor Trayvon Martin is to work to elevate the social status of Black men and boys everywhere. It's up to us to close the opportunity gap and stop the school-to-prison pipeline, so we can, at long last, eliminate society’s negative stereotypes and — most importantly — end the crisis of negative self-perception.
Forty-two percent of Black students attend schools that are under-resourced. Young Black Americans are10 times more likely to be arrested for drug offenses than young whites — in spite of evidence showing that white kids are more likely to abuse drugs.
Taken together, these challenges have bred a psychological and cultural catastrophe: Negative self-perception. Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts sometimes asks groups of Black students how often homicides committed against white Americans are committed by Black Americans. Many of these students — taking their cues from the nightly news — assume the figure is around 75 percent. They are often shocked to learn that the real statistic is 13 percent.
Yes, we must strengthen rules against profiling and discrimination. But we must also attack the underlying structures that breed discrimination and devastating social pressures against Black men and boys.
This week, I am convening an all-star panel of experts at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Washington to identify proven strategies to improve health, education, and economic outcomes for Black men and boys. During the panel — which will feature leaders including theRev. Al Sharpton, actor Malik Yoba, civil rights attorney Judith Browne Dianis, White House official David Johns, civil rights advocate Tracy Martin and others — I will be discussing the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, an in-school comprehensive dropout prevention and mentoring program that I launched in Miami-Dade Public Schools 20 years ago. It has kept thousands of mostly fatherless young men away from destitution and drugs while inspiring ambition and a sense of civic responsibility.
Other panelists will describe their own experiences and ideas of how to close the opportunity gap. I am grateful for the work of the Advancement Project — which is doing work across the country to ensure children of color are placed on paths to college and careers — for its help organizing this panel.
We know what works. It’s time to put it into practice.
Members of the 5000 Role Models Project will be present in Washington for Friday’s panel. They are living testaments to the fact that young people can transform massive challenges into inspiration and achievement. For the sake of their siblings, classmates and young men and boys around the nation, we must act now.