Black Young Men in America: Rising above Social and Racial Prejudice, Trauma, and Educational Disparities

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The African American Alumni Committee of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Alumni Association presented a symposium on:

Black Young Men in America:
Rising above Social and Racial Prejudice, Trauma, and Educational Disparities

February 15, 2014

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On July 14, 2013 Black America woke up to yet another reminder of the racial and social disparities impacting African American male adolescents and the lack of empathy America has toward their position in society. The frequency of these kinds of experiences has left the African American community frustrated and angry leading to more questions with limited or no answers. The community continues to search for additional ways to support and protect African American male adolescents, with the hopes of helping them navigate the systemic and social structures and the highly charged racial environment that weakens their ability to develop into productive men.

Presented in honor of African American History Month, the African American Alumni Committee of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Alumni Association brought together a panel of leading practitioners, leaders and researchers in their respective fields to facilitate a solution driven dialogue, highlight effective interventions, evidence-based strategies and ways of influencing public policies. Although there a multitude of areas that need to be addressed, this year's symposium focused on the use of education as a key intervention, how untreated trauma impacts African American male adolescent's ability to thrive in America, and how to effectively communicate and build relationships with young Black men. 

Youth Keynote Address:   Rodney Walker

Rodney Walker is an alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He is also the founder and CEO of Forever Life Productions; a company that creates custom videos and songs for special events. After being accepted to Morehouse College on academic probation in the fall of 2008, Rodney has had many academic accomplishments. He has studied abroad in Spain, served as a keynote speaker in Monaco, France for Ernst and Young, and has delivered a keynote at the White House on the importance of financial literacy for urban youth. Periodically he speaks to middle and high school students about the importance of education and the benefits of going to college.  He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in ethics from Yale University.


Panelists and Workshop Presenters

  • Nia Abdullah, Principal, Bowen High School, Chicago Public Schools
  • Marshaun Bacon, AM’09, B.A.M (Becoming A Man) Counselor, Youth Guidance
  • Tyree Booker, Executive Director, Camelot Schools
  • Kweku Embil, Principal, Woodlawn Elementary Community School, Chicago Public Schools
  • Greg Gaither, AM’84, Founder and Executive Director, Illinois African American Juvenile Justice Institute
  • Troy Harden, Ed.D., LCSW, Assistant Professor at Chicago State University, Director, Institute for Youth and Community Engagement
  • Waldo Johnson, PhD’93, Associate Professor, The University of Chicago, SSA
  • Willie Jones, Jr., Black Men Sharing and Caring
  • Elizabeth Kirby, AM'00 (SSD), Network Chief, Area 11, Chicago Public Schools
  • Kweli Kwaza, AM’11, Executive Director, Talented Tenth University Tours & Career Mentoring Program
  • G. Sequane Lawrence, Director, Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities; President, Center for Strategic Investment in Youth and Families
  • Dovetta McKee, JD, Director, Special Programs and College Preparation, Office of Civic Engagement, The University of Chicago
  • Patrick W. Milton, AM’06, Senior Manager, GEAR UP and Postsecondary Advising, Office of College and Career Success, Chicago Public Schools
  • Laura Patrick, AM’98, LCSW, Social Worker, Learn Charter School Network
  • Jourdan Sorrell, President & CEO, 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc; AM' 16 Candidate, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration 
  • Michael Sorrell, JD, President, Paul Quinn College
  • Jason Story, B.A.M (Becoming A Man) Counselor, Youth Guidance
  • Tommye Sutton, Deputy Chief of Police-Director of Charter School Security, The University of Chicago Department of Safety 
  • Truth n' Trauma Project, Chicago State University
  • Catherine Whitfield, AM’05, LCSW, Assistant Principal, Social Worker, Bowen High School, CPS
  • Monico Whittington-Eskridge, AB’92, AM’96, Statewide Program Administrator of Field Support, Illinois Department of Children and Family/ Chicago State University, Supervisory Training to Enhance Practice Program
  • Eric Williams, College and Career Specialist, Chicago Public Schools

Symposium Schedule:

8:00 a.m.          Registration and Continential Breakfast   
9:00 a.m.          Welcome
9:15 a.m.           Panel Discussion on Symposium Theme
10:30 a.m.        Break
10:45 a.m.        Educational  Breakout Session Series
12:00 p.m.        Lunch and Break
12:30 p.m.        Trauma and Relationship Breakout Session Series
1:45 p.m.           Break
2:00 p.m.          Youth Keynote Address
2:45 p.m.          Closing Remarks

Break out Session Topic

Symposium attendees selected one morning and afternoon break-out session from the following topics

Education Breakout Session Series (Select one morning session)
10:45am to 12:00pm

The use of education as a key intervention to help African American adolescent males improve their position in society. 

  1. How do we engage and re-engage African American males in education while leveraging family, community, and other stakeholders?
  2. How do we improve the K-12 educational outcomes of African American males while changing the family and community’s perspective on the value of education?
  3. How do we improve college and career outcomes?

Trauma and Relationship Breakout Session Series (Select one afternoon session)
12:30pm to 1:45pm

The Effects of Untreated Trauma and Ways of Addressing

     1.   How do we effectively address trauma that has a frequent occurrence in African American adolescent male’s lives?

Effectively build relationships with African American male adolescents in various settings in-order to assist them in improving their position in society.        

     2.   How do we build relationships with African American adolescent males without the presence of racial and social fear?

     3.   How do we engage African American adolescent males in healthy conversations about how they see themselves, how the world views them, and how they can facilitate change?


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