Cheyney University Blog

100 Black Men- Committed to Excellence in Character, Scholastic Achievement and Community Service

July 14, 2009

Recently, my husband (a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the 100 Black Men) and I had the opportunity to participate in the 100 Black Men of America’s 2009 conference, Education on the Frontline, held in New York City. This was the 23rd such conference since the organization has been in existence. There are over 116 chapters in the United States. According to the members, the 100 Black Men of America began in New York City in 1963 to explore ways to improve the quality of life of African Americans and other minorities. Over the years, the organization has increasingly focused on improving education, health and wellness, and economic development by mentoring young adults, offering scholarships, and creating environments where children are inspired to achieve.

Overall, the conference sessions were inspiring and uplifting, and the activities of the 100 Black Men defied the prevalent stereotypes of Black men in our society and in the media. The New York 100 Chapter’s Eagle Academy in the Bronx was particularly noteworthy, and possibly worthy of replication in Philadelphia and other urban areas with high drop-out rates. With an enrollment of about 600 male students, The Eagle Academy is committed to the development of college-preparatory public schools that educate and develop young men into future leaders committed to excellence in character, scholastic achievement and community service.

Over 1,000 persons from across the nation participated in the conference, in addition to about 500 middle school and secondary students who toured New York and attended some of the sessions. For many of the students, this was their first time exposed to New York City and its treasures, including a memorable trip to the Apollo Theater. The conference sessions were rich with a range of speakers and perspectives. Conference speakers included The Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City; former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary of US Department of Education; the Honorable David Patterson, Governor of New York; Dr. Keith Black, Chief Neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Mr. Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League; and a host of other influential men and women representing a range of organizations concerned about improving the quality of life for all Americans.

There were many high points during the extraordinarily well-managed conference, including one special moment where we were able to participate in a breakfast where a friend and co-author, Dr. Howard Rasheed, among other inspirational men, received an award for providing leadership for young men across America.

So, what is the takeaway? It is simply that the 100 Black Men actively demonstrate what we can all do when we make a commitment to focus on the development of our youth for a more resilient and inclusive America. As Dr. Bill Cosby stated in a video message, “We have to put some bodies on our youth.” We must demonstrate that we care most about helping our youth to develop into responsible and contributing Americans through our actions and our commitment. If they win, we all win! We cannot afford to allow any of our children to lose this competition for a positive future—especially when globalization means more competitors can displace them and us.

President Obama has clearly articulated the call to arms for education in America! Let us all resolve to respond by wrapping our arms around our young adults more passionately than before, vigilantly guarding the quality of their education, and absolutely refusing to let them fade away!

Michelle R. Howard-Vital, Ph.D.

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Michelle, one of the hightlights of the conference for me was spending time with you and Geri. Your achievements at Cheyney are an inspiration to us all. Keep up the good work, as I know you will. Howard Rasheed
Howard 5:31PM 10/07/09

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