SMART'N UP! Houston Gears Up for Much Needed Black Male Summit 2012

“We have as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter the slaves mind. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be complete; they would then be on the level with the beast of the field and we should be safe.” 

These are the words of Mr. Henry Berry, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, put on public record in 1832. Mr. Berry recognized the necessity of keeping the Black race ignorant in order to preserve the institution of slavery in America. One hundred eighty years later his words still sting bitterly, particularly in the case of the Black Male. The lack of knowledge is his worst enemy and the American education system appears to be failing to adequately supply him with what is necessary for survival and success in the land of the free.

While some may argue such a claim, the numbers don’t lie. The Schott Foundation for Public Education released a 2012 report stating that only 52% of Black males graduate high school in four years. These statistics were revealed in its 50 state report on Public Education and Black Males. In Texas only 53% of Black males graduate high school in four years.

The reports also reads: “after decades of highlighting increasing lost opportunities for Black males, most states and districts have yet to institutionalize state or district-wide policies focused on providing the supports to create an environment for Black and Latino boys to thrive.” More on this report can be found at www.blackboysreport.org.

The aforementioned statement speaks to the unique support system needed for the Black male to thrive in education. If no light enters his mind he will end up just like Mr. Berry predicted; on the level of the beast of the field. Because a beast is without knowledge, it uses raw survival instinct to make every day decisions. Black on Black violence, crime, homicide, suicide and other diabolical trends among Black males is not the cause. On the contrary these are the EFFECTS of darkness in the mind that the traditional education is failing to enlighten. Therefore education for Black males must explored be redefined.

Houston-based activist Deric Muhammad and Lone Star College North Harris’ Victory Center and others have partnered for the third annual “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit. The summit seeks to inspire, motivate and navigate young Black males to pursue knowledge inside of the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. The theme “Smart’n Up” is an appeal to young Black (and Latino) males to seek knowledge in order to make better decisions in life. Admission into the Black Male Summit is FREE.

If half of all Black males are not graduating high school in the prescribed time this is a red flag that the traditional educational route is not for everybody. The Black Male Summit encourages Black boys and men to pursue higher education. It also promotes self-education; becoming self-taught like great men the likes of Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and others. The summit also strongly encourages Black males to take up trades, becoming certified welders, Architecture and Construction Professionals, Electricians, etc. Lone Star College Victory Center provides these and other programs as well. GED and College entrance information will be available at the summit.

The Lone Star Victory Center sits in the heart of the Acres Homes community (9191 Victory Dr.) which has produced some excellent examples. State Representative Sylvester Turner is Harvard graduate who overcame life’s obstacles to excel in the traditional educational system.

Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of the African-American News & Issues, didn’t pursue his education the traditional way. Malonson was born poor into the family of 11 in a two bedroom house with no electricity or running water. He was stricken with polio at six months of age. He was given braces to help correct partial paralysis on his right side. His mother left him at the age of 5 and his father committed suicide in 1974. He overcame obstacles that would make most buckle and give up in this day and time.

Malonson started by selling bottles in order to pay for his Boy Scout uniform. He believes that being teased by his classmates about his condition made him stronger. At age 13 he developed an interest in carpentry and started building and selling cabinets. The rest is history. Malonson went on to become one of the most successful Black businessmen and one of the strongest Black voices in the history of the city of Houston; a great example for Black boys who embodies what the Black Male Summit represents.

Register for Black Male Summit at www.blackmalesummit2012.eventbrite.com

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