Photo by PVIDELA@BRADENTON.COM
MANATEE — The Black Male Crisis in America includes Manatee County.
Nearly 300 people attended the first Black Male Crisis in America summit Saturday hosted by the Manatee County School District at Manatee Technical College’s State Road 70 East campus.
“A child educated only at school is an uneducated child,” said keynote speaker Stephen Peters, author of “Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me.” “We need the whole community, the whole village. I don’t want to even hear that, ‘Anymore it takes a village to raise a child.’ The village is ill.”
The village is full of crack addicts and pedophiles, he added.
“We need to create a new village and the community in the school is the best place to start,” Peters said.
The four-hour long summit featured two keynote speakers, including Peters, break-out workshop sessions on early childhood care and nutrition, the value of education, mentoring and men taking responsibilities as fathers.
Whole Child Project, Take Stock in Children, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Visible Men Academy, Children Therapy Solutions and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People all participated in the inaugural summit.
The idea for the event came as a challenge from former Manatee County School Board member Barbara Harvey, said Diana Greene, deputy superintendent of instruction, after the district was ranked No. 2 in the state for disproportionately identifying black males as having emotional behavioral disabilities.
“This is not a Manatee County School Board issue,” Greene said Saturday. “It’s an issue we need to solve as a community.”
The summit purpose, she added, was to bring awareness to the disproportional challenges black men face in achieving success, and to let people know about available services.
The school district is also helping to bring those services to students at Horizons Academy High School with the addition of a full-time counselor from Manatee Glens, according to Principal Omar Edwards. He has started to see a change, Edwards added, following a period of adjustment.
Saturday’s event was important in laying the groundwork for addressing the crisis. The biggest challenge, Edwards said, is transportation for families to get the services they need.
The community will continue to face that challenge “until our country accepts that’s it’s going to cost money,” Edwards said.