“What does that mean to go through an entire education cycle and see no one who looks like you.”

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement and Black and Minority Ethnicity Community Detroit held “Dreams Not to Be Deferred: Supporting the Success of Black Men and Boys” to discuss the importance of impacting the lives of black man and boys on Nov. 15.

Panelists included Shawn Dove, CEO of CBMA, Bryant Marks, presidential advisor of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Truman Hudson, manager of BMe Community Detroit, Leonard Savala, director of Wayne State’s Office Multicultural Student Engagement and Brandon Gleaton, Teacher Education candidate and Morris Hood Scholar at WSU.  

“Black boys don’t need saviors they need believers,” said Dove.

The event also featured other speakers, including Director of School Partnerships and Dreamkeepers Urban Teacher Residency Program Leah van Belle, Interim Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Alycia Meriweather, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for the CBMA Robert Simmons and Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University Chezare Warren. 

The CBMA is a national membership network that ensures growth, sustainability and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcome of black men and boys, according to the CBMA website.

Belle said she loves the intensity that the CBMA has when it comes to helping their students.

“This is why I chose to partner with them for so many years,” she said. “In case you’re not aware of it, we have a teaching crisis.” 

Belle and other partners of the organization spoke about the mission of their own programs, as well as shared their experiences about their involvement with the black male youth. 

Meriweather told a story about a group of African American males from Martin Luther King Jr. High School who created the group Making a Difference.  

“They want to make the next generation better, [and] they are making a choice to make it better without being bitter,” Meriweather said.

Meriweather said she was profound listening to the young men in MAD say the things they were saying at such an early age. She reiterated this by reading one of the young men’s quote at the event: “Us as a group, we want to make a difference, we want to remove barriers for black males, we want peace love and positivity.” 

She goes on to discuss how the group of boys wanted to work with other boys because they did not have positive black male models working with them. This was a subject the panelist focused on for the rest of the night.

Gleaton said he only had three educators who were people of color from K-12.

“That sends a message to black boys who are growing up,” said Gleaton “What does that mean to go through an entire education cycle and see no one who looks like you.”  

The panelist also discussed issues surrounding black males and how they can become more innovative without someone telling them they can’t accomplish a goal.

Warren said, “I think black male teachers are important, because young men need to have access and exposure to diverse models of black men.”

Salvala said he has been told for many years that he will never become a doctor and he should pick another profession, but that just made him want to do it more. He said that he knows people are constantly telling these young men what they can’t do but it is their job to show them otherwise. 

Salvala said, “There are some serial dream killers around here.” 

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