Chester Marshall and Ernest Robinson were panelists at the symposium.
From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown, the state of Black Men in America is declining due to different scenarios of young Black males being killed by police. The “On the brink of Ferguson, The State of the Black Man in America” discussion was held to show the relevance of Black and minority men, and to discuss the state of the Black man in America.
The symposium, at Busboys & Poets in Northwest D.C., was in honor of the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27. Panelists included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and CEO of the Institute for African Man Development; Chester Marshall, president and CEO of the B- Ernest; Howard University Gentleman of Drew Social Club, Ernest Robinson; and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.).
About 50 guests attended the event to discuss various topics on the Black man’s situation in America, including: Black men’s mental health, the future of Black Men fueling the technology and education sectors, the financial security of Black men in America, the value of the Black man in America, and how Black men’s fashion impacts the perception of America. Jackson opened the symposium by addressing “The Future of Black Men Fueling Technology and Education Sectors.” He discussed a multitude of topics including Emmitt Till, the importance of voting and persistence.
“It’s a lot of Fergusons around the country,” Jackson told the crowd. “In terms of starting our own business, we are choosing pride over policy. We cannot just vote and go away. Voting is just a step in a long-term process. When the next election comes, will we fight back or step back? I’m hoping that we fight.”
Marshall addressed the mental health topic. He described two types of people, “The Victorious Brothers,” and the “Disconnected Brothers.”
“The Victorious Brothers are everyday brothers that walk the face of the earth, trying their best to do and be better,” he said. “This season, I’ve seen more African American families send their children off to college then their children going to jail, but nobody talks about it. The only time they talk about Victorious Brothers is when they are in trouble or they have too much money.”
According to Marshall, disconnected Brothers are males that were cut off from the elements that should sustain them such as family, family values, and culture, among others. “Some males have left and came back. Others have left and are on their way back. Some have left and have forgotten how to come back, and those are the ones that are disconnected,” he said.
Marshall also mentioned the impact of slavery. “Every African American has to ask themselves: How are they dealing with slavery,” he said. “Slavery continues to be a metaphoric reason for mental health illness because we haven’t dealt with it.”
Robinson spoke about the value of Black men in America. “We need to prioritize ourselves,” he said. “You can’t do it alone but you alone must do it. We need to regain trust amongst one another. It should not just be brothers in my frat that I trust.”