44th Annual Legislative Conference Highlights – Sept. 27

In a room filled beyond capacity, attendees cried, laughed and said from the heart, “I love you.” At the My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall panelists shared stories of trial and triumph, hope, and, most importantly, the blueprint for a plan of action. As Reverend Al Sharpton says, “President Obama started the [My Brother’s Keeper] program because he wanted to open the sea of opportunity [for young men] like it was opened for him.”

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson opened the event by acknowledging President Obama for having the “vision and fortitude” to create My Brother’s Keeper, a program to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

Through this initiative, the Administration is joining with cities and towns, businesses, and foundations who are taking important steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class.

A former school teacher herself, congresswoman Wilson knows first-hand how important this program is to the boys in our community and our community as a whole.  Ms Wilson spearheaded the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project in the Dade County, FL school system that connects young men and boys with mentors and creates publications, such as pamphlets on how to interact with police. In fact, every attendee who entered the Town Hall walked through an aisle comprised on each side of the young mentees of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, who each said hello and shook every hand extended to them.

Congresswoman Wilson chuckled as she relayed the story of how her girl students would ask in exasperated tones, “Ms. Wilson, why are you always doing stuff for the boys and not us?” To which Congresswoman Wilson wisely replied, “Honey, you’ll come to realize that doing something for the boys is doing something for all of us!”

The four-hour Town Hall was comprised of four panels, each providing the necessary building blocks to understand the issues that our sons are facing in society and to prove a roadmap for making things better. The panels that took place were: My Brother’s Keeper: Bringing the American Dream To Life, moderated by Rev. Sharpton; Finding Solutions to Empower and Support Boys and Men of Color, moderated by Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho; Mothers of Murdered Children, moderated by former Congresswoman Rev. Leah Daughtry; and Discussing Racial Profiling and Minority Relationships with Law Enforcement.

Congressmen Jeffries and Horsford shared their stories of growing up in Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively, and discussed the importance of programs like My Brother’s Keeper. When describing why he ran for office, Rep. Jeffries quoted Shirley Chisholm, “A politician only cares about the next election. A statesman cares about the next generation.”

“Because we’re guiding them.” Congresswoman Wilson, quoting our President said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

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