Wayne State University

Teacher Education

College partners with Campaign for Black Male Achievement and BMe Detroit to support success of black males

Published Thursday, January 5, 2017

The college recently hosted “Dreams Not to Be Deferred: Supporting the Success of Black Men and Boys,” a panel discussion and community dialogue. The purpose of the event — a collaboration between the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, BMe Community Detroit and the Dreamkeepers Urban Teacher Residency Program — was to identify and explore ways schools and communities can support the success of black males. Nearly 300 people gathered to discuss initiatives, ideas and issues related to the achievement of black men and boys, who face a number of challenges, particularly when it comes to education.

Research indicates that black boys are twice as likely to be held back in elementary school, three times as likely to be suspended from school and half as likely to graduate from college. In addition, young black men tend to have lower literacy rates and are less prepared for college than their peers in other racial and ethnic groups. Data suggest that this is because a much higher percentage of black children are raised in poverty than their white peers and do not have access to the same quality schooling and academic enrichment opportunities. Educational researchers, such as Gloria Ladson-Billings, call this the educational “opportunity and achievement gap.”

Despite the obstacles black males must overcome, Shawn Dove, chief executive officer for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement — a national nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure the growth, sustainability and impact of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys — said they do not need to be rescued.

“Black boys don’t need saviors, they need believers,” said Dove, who also helped launch the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. “Our black men and boys need to know that we believe in their potential to become positive role models and leaders in our communities and in our country. That belief fuels their confidence and creates an expectation of success. Being hopeful about the future is critical to reaching goals and dreams.”

“Our black boys are geniuses with a wealth of potential, and they are waiting for us to provide them with the guidance necessary for realizing their personal and our collective success,” said Wayne State alumnus Truman Hudson, Jr., EdD., manager of BMe Community Detroit. “With the guidance and support of strong black male mentors similar to those who work through organizations like Campaign for Black Male Achievement, BMe Community, Black Greek Lettered Fraternities and a host of faith-based institutions, we are witnessing more young black men step into their greatness in business, education and government and obtain their baccalaureate and terminal degrees in such honorable areas as law, medicine, education and engineering.”

Brandon M. Gleaton, a teacher education candidate and Wayne State University learning community peer mentor for the course TED 2250/Becoming an Urban Educator, said part of the reason he chose to pursue a career in teaching was to support and mentor students of color, particularly young men.

“From kindergarten through twelfth grade, I had three teachers of color,” said Gleaton. “People of color, especially black males, have a limited presence in the teaching profession. We need to change this dynamic because young people of color, in particular black males, must see people who look like them in front of the classroom. When you see people who look like you leading successful lives, it not only provides an opportunity to identify role models and mentors, but it is also a source of motivation.”

Other panelists included Bryant T. Marks, PhD., a presidential advisor to Barack Obama for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, senior research fellow for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and an associate professor of psychology and director of the Program for Research on Black Male Achievement at Morehouse College; Leonard Savala, PhD., director of the WSU Office of Multicultural Student Engagement; and Alycia Merriweather, interim superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Leah van Belle, PhD., director of The Dream Keepers program, said the event provided the community, university and major organizations engaged in equity and access work to become thought partners about their roles in shifting opportunities for success for black boys and men, particularly in the context of education or those that impact educational outcomes.

“This is a critical dialogue in Detroit’s educational landscape, particularly in light of the fact that Wayne State is preparing teachers to serve children in Detroit schools,” she said. “The college is grateful to the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and BMe Detroit for funding this event. We also appreciate the CMBA’s ongoing support of our efforts to ensure black males have access to the resources and relationships they need to succeed. We are excited about working with them to turn the obstacles black men and boys face into opportunities that promote achievement and make their dreams possible. We are also pleased to partner with the Detroit Public Schools Community District on The Dream Keepers program to prepare more classroom educators who understand how to teach in ways that support black male academic success.”

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