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Black Male Summit draws 700 to host UA

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As Richard Davis listened to a speech at the University of Akron on Friday about the plight of black men in America, he quickly jotted down notes to make sure he didn’t miss any key points.

He nodded his head in agreement for most of the lunchtime session, and didn’t squirm or get uncomfortable when the speaker, Na’im Akbar, a Florida State University psychology professor, talked about slavery and systemic racism, and how it affects black men in the 21st century.

In fact, the 24-year-old apprentice carpenter from Akron, who is white, said most of the lecture was right on because Akbar “kept it real.”

Davis was one of more than 700 people, predominantly black junior high, high school and college students, who attended the university’s first ever Black Male Summit, a conference where the students listen to speakers and panelists and participate in roundtable discussions about problems black men face in the region.

The two-day conference, which ends today, was set up to help deal with issues men in the black community face such as violence and low graduation rates in both high school and college.

At the keynote address, Akbar talked to the students about the three C’s: confidence, consciousness and courage, and cited presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama as an example of what they could become.

“He’s a consequence of a whole tradition that has been trying to restore manhood in black males, as opposed to the model of thugs, self-destructiveness . . . and gang banging being used as models of what we can be. If those images [Three Cs] can permeate our community, that would solve a lot of the problems we have.”

Derrick Bivins, 19, of Akron, said he attended because he wanted to listen to what educators had to say about violence.

“I think some of the problems brothers have isn’t because they want to sell drugs or be violent, but it ends up being all they know because nothing else is around,” Bivins said.

During a workshop intermission, Nicole Fowler of Akron looked at a scheduling book to make sure she took her teenage son and nephew to the right session.

She made the two attend despite being out of school for spring vacation.

“I can tell them to do the right thing all I want, but I can’t teach them how to be black men,” Fowler, 35, said. “I wanted to give them exposure to positive influences, and this is good for them.”

The Black Male Summit continues today from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the University of Akron. The event will feature lectures and discussions about black student athletes, education, religion and more. Hill Harper, an actor and author, is scheduled to deliver the closing address at the conference.

SOURCE: Cleveland Plain Dealer


Written by Symphony

April 13, 2008 at 8:16 pm

One Response

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  1. I and my comrads are currently planning a Summit for the african male discussion solutions to the many issues
    that demoblize the black male. We can no longer afford excuses, oversights when some many resources are available
    if the indidvidual wants to improve.

    We must deal with identity, attitude, education and ecomonic management and acquisitions We plan to engage a number of participants to assure full coverage of the topic. We are open to any insights you may have with your preparation fot such an event.

    Rev Kirk

    September 5, 2008 at 2:35 am

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