Education of Black Boys Focus of Community Dialogue

It takes a village to raise a child.

Since October 2009, Mothers Offering Youth Opportunity (MOYO) has held public forums where residents have gathered to speak about important matters that impact their community. As part of the group’s ongoing work, a community dialogue was held Saturday, Feb. 27, on how to improve the quality of life of black youth in Syracuse.

“These meetings give us the opportunity to talk about issues that are plaguing our children,” said Marcelle Haddix, founder of MOYO.

More than 50 people gathered at the Beauchamp Branch Library to participate in the dialogue to discuss ways to improve the educational outcomes for black boys.

The discussion was headed by a diverse panel of seven prominent community leaders who focused on two central questions: 1. What are some of the key factors affecting the academic and social success of black boys? 2. What can we do to improve upon the current educational experience of our black boys?

All panelist agreed that one key factor affecting youth success was lack of parental involvement.

“Parents are becoming younger. It is hard for a boy to take care of another boy, we need to prevent this from happening. When parents are not involved, kids are lead away,” said 18- year-old Khaleed Turnquest, president of the NAACP youth chapter.

Dr. Ethel Sewindell Robinson, owner of Swindell Associates a Family Literacy Consulting Firm, added, “Children are a gift from God. It takes the home and school to educate kids.”

A discussion ensued on how parents play a vital role in increasing their children’s self-esteem, holding high expectations, providing good role models, limiting exposure to negative music and content and becoming an active participant in their child’s education.

“We need to stop blaming others for our failures and take responsibility, learn from these failures and move on,” said Pastor Milton E. Kornegay of Central Baptist Church.

After the panel discussion the audience split into small groups to talk about the five key factors that impede the success of black boys. According to Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu’s book, “Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys” these factors are mothers raising black boys, the white female teacher effect, missing fathers and male role models, fourth-grade failure syndrome and the school to prison pipeline.

Each group was challenged to come up with one action that people in their community could do to make a difference.

In small groups the dialogue became more personal. All group members had the opportunity to share their experiences, opinions and ideas. Everyone worked together to gain a better understanding of the issues and find solutions.

“We know what the problems are and we know the solutions,” Haddix said. “Change must come from the people.”

For more photos from the event, visit The Stand’s Flickr Site.