JACKSON, Miss– As we leave Jackson State University, site of the second in a series of five summits on educational excellence of African Americans, it’s important to chart next steps on that journey, even as we acknowledge the significance of the partnership behind the summit.
In March, Ebony Magazine published a story detailing plans to host the summit series as a way to raise awareness about the White House initiative on education excellence and encourage conversation about African American student achievement.
Today, one official from the magazine’s parent company reiterated that commitment.
Todd Brown, executive vice president for Johnson Publishing Co., the wholly minority-owned parent company of Ebony, reminded the audience of nearly 200 at Jackson State’s McCoy Auditorium that his publication was started as the “Book of Record for the African American community.”
“We still want to be in the business of having relevant social conversation about what’s going on life cycle-wise with our community,” he said .
The series continues in June with events in Oakland, Calif. on June 13-14, Los Angeles on June 26-29 and finally in Philadelphia, Pa. Oct. 24-25.
It will be interesting to see who’s selected to be the speakers and panelists at these upcoming events. The players in these summits can change the entire direction of the movement for change.
In the meantime, for those of here today, what are our next steps–
“If there’s one thing that you do when you leave here today, it’s that you find a young person that you affirm,” said David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Johns suggested today’s summit was important in stressing the VALUE of looking at the issues that were addressed, realizing progress on these issues happens through the RELATIONSHIPS that are built at summits like this and that any effort much involve COMMUNITY.
10 THINGS I’ll do now
While there are plenty of young African American men I can affirm both in my job as an assistant dean at The University of Alabama and in my role as a citizen in Tuscaloosa, Ala., there are multiple things that I think need to be done to “continue the conversation” and dialogue on the larger issue of educational excellence:
- The social conversation of Educational Excellence Must Start with the FACTS (Assembling those from Ivory Toldson’s research will be key)
- The social conversation surrounding the status of African American boys must include a discussion about classroom-to-prison pipeline.
- A data-driven approach is essential for success.
- It’s not about the grants as many of the problems that need to be solved won’t come through “new programs” or initiatives, but the involvement of coalitions that pool resources that may or may not involve external funding
- The needs of African American boys can be addressed without excluding the African American girls
- The approach we take now must involve identifying and perhaps imitating BEST PRACTICES.
- The network of people working on this issue is larger than my geographic city or region– so I must follow-up with those from whom we heard today trying take advantage of the new relationships built through the summit.
- Engaging parents has to be a top priority in anything that we do in West Alabama, and that depends on the way we approach those parents.
- The Cultural competence and preparation of teachers is a major part of the puzzle that must be contained in any effort in our own state of Alabama to address excellence in education for African Americans.
- While it takes a village (to raise a child), the village in the African American community is not well– so healing the village must be a priority before that village can support raising a new child.