Hundreds of thousands convened at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. less than a month ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom in the Black community.

In July, the country witnessed the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Now, a Florida Congresswoman is continuing the fight to save Black men and boys by hosting a roundtable involving leaders from across the African-American community.

“It’s time for a coherent multi-sector debate and agenda to close gaps in education, employment and healthcare for good,” Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said in a statement.

During the Sept. 20 Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., Wilson gathered a group of civil rights lawyers, policy experts, celebrities to discuss ways on improving health, education and economic outcomes for African American men and boys.

The new event builds on Wilson’s 5,000 Role Model of Excellence Project, a program she started and founded nearly 20 years ago in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, which is geared towards at-risk African American boys who were lacking male role models and guidance in their lives.

“I know from experience and from the successes of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project that we can find solutions to save our sons, if we work together,” Wilson said.

The panel consisted of 25 role model boys, accompanied by 10 mentors serving as ambassadors.

The celebrity panelist included Rev. Al Sharpton and Ray Baker as moderators; Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders; Bishop Victor T. Curry, Pastor if the New Birth Baptist Church; Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project. Joshua Dubois, founder of Founder Values Partnership and Columnist of the Daily Beast; Jahvaris Fulton, brother of Trayvon Martin; David Johns, Executive Director of The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin and Founder of The Trayvon Martin Foundation; Robert Parker, president of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project; Dr. Dana L. Suskind, Dr. Dana L. Suskind, University of Chicago Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics Director, Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program; Isiah Thomas, Hall of Fame NBA player and Chairman and CEO of ISIAH International; Robert Townsend, Hollywood Icon and Producer; Paul Wilson, Administrative Director Office of Labor Relations Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Malik Yoba, Hollywood Actor and Humanitarian Advocate.

“The well-being of the African American male can no longer take a back seat,” Wilson said.


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer