DEVELOPING COLLECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR BLACK MALE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE, AND BEYOND!

 

George R. Greenidge, Jr.

April 5, 2019

 

 

Today, Black men face significant obstacles in their pursuit of quality public education in this country. In recent years, communities have developed strategies to help overcome these obstacles. In October 2018, over 1,000 black men convened in Philadelphia to explore their own narratives of receiving a public education, completing college, entering the job market, and the roadblocks that they continue to face in becoming economically self-sufficient.

As a means to help resolve many of the issues that Black men regularly encounter, The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice is currently providing initiatives to combat the injustices that Black men have unfortunately become too familiar with. The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice is a professional membership and activist organization dedicated to advancing the recruitment, development and retention of Black male educators in schools throughout the country with a special focus on Greater Philadelphia. Furthermore, due to a large number of students of color benefiting from the opportunity to learn from highly-effective, conscientious Black male educators, The Fellowship acts as a catalyst to help accelerate and diversify this occurrence.

10 Georgia State Students were selected and awarded full conference scholarships to attend the 2nd Annual National Black Male Educators Convening in Philadelphia, PA. This annual national conference brings together the experiences of educators, scholars, policy makers, community activists and allies in relation to Black male educators in our nation’s public schools and communities. The GSU student organization Greatest MINDS Society was selected for its mission to provide mentorship and guidance to first-generation college students (especially Black males at GSU) seeking to become active and successful contributors to civil society by giving them access to college, career and community networks. As a SIF Fellow with the GSU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, it also provides an opportunity to connect our students to real-life opportunities on learning now to network.

 

This conference was a great opportunity to join a movement of educators, activists and partners to bolster the representation of Black male educators in our nation’s public schools. Most importantly, this opportunity for GSU black male students will help them to become a better educators, advocates, and professionals in school and urban community settings.

 

I have decided to share some of the student testimonials from this conference including my own; these testimonials show how the conference was a formative experience. Students have begun to see themselves as advocates and change agents in public education. I want to give special thanks to the conference organizers and funders that have made our attendance possible.

 

 

George R. Greenidge, Jr.

Georgia State University

“At the Black Male Educators Conference, The Fellowship. This was my second year and I have been able to bring many students, mentors, mentees and volunteers together that I have worked with over the last twenty years to this conference who have a passion to work in public education. This conference is quite interesting because the agenda is solely developed by black male educators who are interested in increasing the pipeline in urban areas for black male teachers and administrators.  This Fellowship realizes that this must be an inter-generational effort to work across boundaries, silos, and infrastructures in city, state and local government to make this a national conversation. I have been able to bring students and alumni from my nonprofit the National Black College Alliance and the Greatest MINDS together to attend this conference to network, learn strategies, and develop new ideas to encourage the next generation of civic leaders in this country. I am proud to be a part of this network and look forward to attending next year!”

 

 

 

 

Jerome Miller

Georgia State University

“The National Black Male Educators Conveying Conference 2018, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania took place on October 12-14, 2018. As a member of Greatest Minds, an organization at Georgia State University, ten of us were granted scholarships to be a part of this illustrious event held in Philadelphia, PA. The experience of having the opportunity to be a part of an event such as this, was phenomenal and eye opening. Phenomenal, because I’ve never been in the presence of so many people whose mindset is set on bringing change/positivity to an occurring problem experienced by people in the communities and school systems of black minorities and black people. Everyone of attendance at the conference was on one accord, everyone made a bond, and we all networked and had dialogue as if we previously knew one another before this conference. The experience of being a part of this conference was eye-opening because some statistics and facts pertaining to the lack of education for black kids and lack of black educators in certain school systems, I wasn’t aware existed. For poverty, it’s the same. I wasn’t fond of the idea that a person not knowing they’re of poverty could influence them and their way of thinking. I wasn’t aware that the attendance rate in Baltimore Public Schools for black kids is 33% and I wasn’t aware that black kids are getting suspended from school at age 4. The opportunity to be a scholarship recipient, be a part of the conference National Black Males Educators Conveying in Philadelphia so I can network and meet new people, I must say the sky is the limit towards my future. This event was an opportunity where I was able to get a vision of ways I can affect the young black men of the community in a positive way for the betterment of their future and help the community in any area where it may lack. The most important thing that I take away from this experience; your voice needs to be heard because your voice might be the missing piece to connect the puzzle of solutions for problems together.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tosin Komolafe-Williams

Georgia State University

“This weekend at the National Black Male Educators conference, I learned so much about our people and the issues that we have in education. Black male representation in education is extremely low right now as only we only represent 2% of the education force. This causes a problem as our young black children especially boys have no one they can look up to or relate to. By advocating to bring more black males into education we have the power to uplift our community from the bottom up. Education is a vital tool in transcending past what society tells us we can and cannot be, and this conference was a great first step into doing that. In addition, to be surrounded with so many passionate teachers and educators who wanted to push the agenda for black males was a great learning experience, and to being able to network with these individuals is a great asset that will benefit me in the years to come.”

 

 

 

Joel Mack

Georgia State University

“The National Male Educators for Social Justice Conference has opened me up to a wide arrange of network connections and view of the situation of other Africans American males in America. I was able to make many great connections by attending this conference. An example would be Mr. Walker, he is an African American who teaches in Philadelphia and runs a club geared towards pushing young African Americans to pursue the opportunities that they are not aware of.  We exchanged information to see if he could expand his outreach program beyond Philadelphia and hopefully reach the city of Atlanta. Another great connection made was with Joe Manuli. Mr. Manuli is the sale manager for Vantage, the company which is responsible for the suggestion bar AI on all iPhones. I was able to explain to him the work I am doing at Georgia State University and he offered to speak to me more about working with him and his company on some of the projects in Philadelphia. From the many panel events I attended at the conference, the one that stood out the most to me was one where conference attendees share their experiences and talk about solutions to the problems African Americans are facing in the education field. This event alone showed how committed the educators were and how much knowledge is behind each and every one of these mentors.”

 

 

 

Thomas Jones IV

Georgia State University

“My experience at the National Black Male Educators Conference last weekend was nothing short of exceptional! This experience has made me aware of the fact that there are only 2% of educators in America are Black Males. It has also made me cognizant of the impact it has on Black male students and how it may influence our chances of graduating. Throughout the conference, I have acquired a number of connections from people all across the country and I have also gained a mentor that works for IBM in Atlanta. This experience has inspired me to become an educator at the collegiate level and I am now a strong advocate for their initiative to get more Black male educators into the education system.” – “Because 2%…Not Enough!

 

 

 

Stephen Jackson

Georgia State University

“The overall experience of the Black Male Educator Conference was life-changing. As a black male, this experience opened my eyes to the values and impacts that teachers have on a student’s life and on the black community. The speakers of the panels were very inspirational and uncovered the raw problems of education along with potential solutions. Some of the problem discussed were figuring out what student success truly is. During the conference sessions, I was able to network with different teachers and leaders who are actively involved and have the first-hand experience with empowering black students through education and leadership on the national level. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jarred Boone who is an African American history teacher. Mr. Boone and I discussed the importance of roles models within the school systems and how he encourages his students to have an individual to learn and grow from. With all the experiences I’ve obtained while attending the Black Male Educators Conference, I plan to apply it towards my own education, career path, and goals throughout my life.”

 

 

Evan Malbrough

Georgia State University

“My trip to the National Black Male Educators Associations conference was one that had a major impact. On this trip, I got an in depth look into why it is imperative for black men to enter into the field of education. As a black man and as an activist, I have always believed that education is one of the most important tenets of activism because teaching young minds is what is right and essential for long lasting change. It was great to talk and network with a group of successful and driven black men. It was great to get their advice on my own venture in tackling education and the school to prison pipeline. This trip also showed me how I, a future policy maker, need to keep in mind the need for a diverse teacher corps in order to fully serve a diverse student populace.”

 

 

Colin Redd

Drexel University

“This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the National Black Male Educators Convening conference, an amazing experience to say the least. Being a new commercial real estate advisor, who also has a passion for children, I was unsure if this would be an appropriate conference to attend. Little did, I know it was in every sense. One of the topics that stood out the most to me was the importance of role models. Our black children today usually see entertainers or athletes as being the most successful, but that only speaks to one type of success. Our discussions at the conference opened up the floodgates as to what our young Black children need to be aware of. Not just the LeBron James who can play any position but also the community activists that bring public libraries to the inner-city neighborhoods. I also had the opportunity to fellowship with a great group of like-minded, determined young men. Each coming from a different place, on a different path, all looking to better the world we live in and its future. I would like to thank George Greenidge, Jr. from Greatest MINDS and the Fellowship a thousand times over for putting this together. I look forward to next year!”

 

 

 

 

Derrick Williams

University of Massachusetts Boston

“I want to say I have been a member of the NBCA/Greatest MINDS since 2006. I started out as being mentored by some of the best older students at the NBCA/Greatest MINDS. Now I am becoming a mentor for this program and giving knowledge to our college students. I was honored to reconnect with my mentor George Greenidge, Jr. and a few others and joining them at the Fellowship Black Male Educators Convention in Philadelphia. This weekend, I’ve networked, learned many new things involving education, as well as helping out students that where young and who were like myself at the beginning of their college years. I want to say thank you for the experience and I would hope to come back next year.”

 

Kirubel Behailu

Georgia State University
“It only takes a few to make a difference because the only thing that we ever have is us.” A powerful message by Professor Marc Hill to kick off the conference. Hill’s words traveled with me over the next two days. Growing up, I was always reminded by my parents the importance of getting an education but it wasn’t until recently that I truly realized the importance of having more men that look like me educating our future leaders. Being one of the younger attendees, I had a chance to really learn about the underlying issues of education within the black community. Not only did the panelist bring to light these issues but many of the other attendees, who were deep into their careers, shared and gave me insight on some of the success they’ve had as an educator. I’m leaving Philadelphia with so many more goals, a larger network and a drive to shift our culture…”2% is not enough!”