On Oct. 23 at the Queen Anne Auditorium on the campus of Prince George’s Community College, a forum will be held to address the fragile state of African-American males in Prince George’s County. Under the leadership of Major Riddick, the Men on the Move 210 Impact Summit aims to “link arms and make our young men and our community a priority.”

“As time has gone on, we’ve sort of lost a little bit of the participation of the village,” Riddick said. “The village is something that we grew up on. Many of us that came through at an earlier time could rely on neighbors, men and women, to reach out to help our kids and to reach out to help our schools.

So you had more school involvement from citizens and parents and you had more school involvement with citizens willing to try to make sure that kids were on the right path,” he continued. “We had a different kind of time.”

Riddick is a prominent player in Maryland and in Prince George’s County especially. After 16 years working in the high levels of the Prince George’s County government and six years as chief of staff under former Gov. Parris Glendening, he has been around long enough to see the issues facing Black males in the county magnify.

He says the breakdown of the community and Black family is the biggest issue facing African Americans, but providing a solution to that problem is the challenge he’s staring down.

“It’s sort of a time bomb of issues relating to African Americans in terms of how we were built, how we were socialized and as time went on; it created some splintering and the disintegration of families,” he said. “We also live in a fast-paced, microwave society, which is about speed and is also about me and not us. Then, as one thing led to another, kids were not focused and didn’t understand real manhood and responsibility.”

Looking at education numbers for kids in Prince George’s County backs his concerns. Maryland recently revealed its report card for its school system and it AYP numbers for African-American students in Prince George’s County showed that overall, third through fifth and sixth through eighth- graders were not proficient in reading or math, while ninth through 12- graders were only proficient in math.

The people expected to attend the event are those who share Riddick’s concern for the community, but also want to explore was to turn that concern into action. That’s one way Riddick wants this summit to be different than many others.

“It is a tough challenge. There is nothing easy about trying to get people to take time away from what it is they like to do to give to someone else that they may or may not know,” he said. “Whether it’s the Urban League or the NAACP, I think we need to have one more group, organization, effort or initiative to turn around and figure out how we’re going to create some impact.”

The summit will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Invited speakers include BET personality Jeff Johnson; Prince George’s County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite, Ph.D.; nationally syndicated radio host, Russ Parr, the Rev. Matthew Watley; comedian, Sean Sarvis and Prince George’s Police Chief Roberto Hylton.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO