by Taki S. Raton
An old–but even in present day often quoted–African proverb reminds us that “Until the lion tells his own story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
This most revered saying is the mantra for The Kingdom Institute for Black Men’s Studies (KIBMS), which will sponsor the First Annual Black Male Achievement Summit in Milwaukee on Saturday, November 12 at the Milwaukee Brotherhood Fire Fighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Rd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the spirit of redefining the story of the “hunt”—thereby reclaiming and resurrecting the rightful placement of the Black man on the world stage of time and achievement—the theme of this gathering is “Institutionalizing Our Prideful Legacy and Historical Genius – The Rescue, Restoration and Cultivation of Culture, Dignity and Sustainability For Our Children, Families, Community and Future.”
Organized by the Chicago based Black Star Project in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation Campaign for Black Male Achievement out of New York, this local area forum is inclusive of similar gatherings throughout 25 cities who will be meeting around the country on the same day and during the same time schedule.
According to the most updated Black Star listing, cities in addition to Milwaukee who have made a commitment to participate include Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jackson (Ms), Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, Peoria, Rockford, and Washington, D.C.
The idea and energy to implement these planned national sessions were inspired by the work and vision outcome of a retreat at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky this past September sponsored by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement Open Society Foundation.
“If ‘Occupy Wall Street’ can be organized and executed in three days; if the Arab Spring can be launched in four days, if the Tea Party can organize to take over 50-plus Congressional seats in six months, then how many days will it take for Black men to take control of the destiny of Black people in America and around the world?” asked Black Star founder and director, Phillip Jackson in a recent edition of the organization’s newsletter.
He adds that one of the key features of this summit will be a multi-city video conference role call to introduce the upwards of 250 to 300 Black men to one another who are doing this work across America.
Says Jackson, “Many are calling this the ‘November 12, 2011 Movement of Black Men in Action.’” The national summit’s organizing guide quotes our renowned fighter, Ali:
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”
Each city has the option to select from a running series of topics provided by the organizers. Summit building themes include Globalization, Economics, Business Creation, Entrepreneurship, Health, Nutrition and Emotional Wellness, Education, Male-Female Relationships, Strengthening Families, Building Communities, Creating Institutions, Mentoring and Networking, Fatherhood and Father Absence, Spirituality and Faith, History and Culture, or Addressing the Issue of Youth Violence.
Six core values proposed by summit organizers which participants in all cities are asked to follow include: Respect, Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, and Spirituality.
In accordance with stated guidelines under their respective selective themes, each city summit will contribute to a national solution on the issues of Black men; create a local listing of Black male achievement, improvement and action organizations in that city; connect people in its city to local Black male achievement, improvement and action agencies; connect the work of Black male achievement, improvement and action organizations with connected Black male initiative in other cities across America.
Additionally, each city will connect Black men and elders with young Black men and Black women in positive ways that support their communities; list, coordinate and support local actions for achievement and improvement of Black men and Black boys; work with Black men locally to improve the health, wellness and living viability of Black children, families and their communities, and chronicle the achievements and improvement of Black men and Black people in your community and share such accomplishments as resources, guides and models with connected Black men across the country.
Summit organizers are urged to open their sessions with the 1995 Million Man March Pledge, which was led by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on October 16, 1995 in Washington, D.C. with two million men reciting the covenant.
The Black Star Project provides a devastating sample of the plight of Black males in America noting that in Chicago, only three out of 100 Black boys earn a college degree by age 25; only 28% of Black males graduated from high school in 2008 and 27% in Detroit; 69% of Black children in America cannot read at grade level by the fourth grade as compared with 29% of White fourth grade children; only 7% of Black eighth graders perform math at grade level and 72.3% of Black children are born out of wedlock.
In employment and economics, 50% of all Black men in Chicago between the ages of 16 and 64 years of age are jobless; in Illinois, 47% of all non-institutionalized Black men do not have a job; White males with a high-school diploma are just as likely to have a job and generally earn just as much as a Black male with a college degree; Blacks make up only 3.2% of lawyers, 3% of doctors, and less than 1% of architects in America.
Many of these positions are held by Black women; 53% of Black men aged 25 to 34 are either unemployed or earn too little to lift a family of four from poverty; nationally 72% of Black high-school dropouts are unemployed.
Incarceration and crime stats reveal that more Black children died in Chicago from gunfire in 2008 than soldiers from Chicago died in Iraq; murders of Black males between the ages of 14 and 17-years-old rose by 40% between 2000 and 2007 and during this same period, murders committed by Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 years of age rose by 38%.; Blacks comprise only 12% of the U.S. population, but make up 44% of all prisoners in the United States. The rate is 60% in Illinois.
In 2003, 1,172 Black children and teenagers in the United States died from gunfire. 1.46 million Black men out of a total voting population of 10.4 million Black men have lost their right to vote because of felony convictions.
And citing notes from past articles by this writer, a Black child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent “family” unit than an African American child born today in 2011.
According again to a 2010 Black Star Project report, over the past nine-and-a-half years nationwide from 2001 through 2010, 67,000 Black Americans have been murdered by Black hands. That would be 64,068 more Black folk killed by Black folk than were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during the 29 years between 1889 and 1918 (Molefi K. Asante & Mark T. Mattson – Historical and Cultural Atlas of African Americans).
And in the June 2011 “Milwaukee Today: An Occasional Report of the NAACP” by R.L. McNeely, David Pate and Lisa Ann Johnson, it is listed in the Executive Summary that “More African American men in the nation are in prison, in jail, on parole, or on probation than were enslaved in 1850.
It is envisioned that throughout the country on November 12, the range of topics explored will detail the plethora of historical and current day circumstance giving rise to the aforementioned stats devastatingly undergirding the plight and survival of Black men in America, create steps towards solutions and share such findings with cross-city summit membership.
The Milwaukee November 12th day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration and breakfast. The Million Man March Pledge will open the summit at 9 a.m. Following the morning introduction, a sharing of the summit mission and vision statement and the meeting’s outcome objectives, an abbreviated showing of the nationally acclaimed DVD “Hidden Colors” will be presented.
In keeping with the Milwaukee summit theme reflecting “Prideful Legacy” and “Historical Genius,” “Hidden Colors” is a documentary unfolding the real and untold history of people of color around the globe and efforts to disclose the reasons why the contributions of Africans have been left out of the pages of history.
Released in April of 2011, the film uncovers such facts as the global migration of Africans out of Africa, the first European being Black, the original image of Christ, the true story of the Moors, the original people of Asia, the magnificent global African empires, the presence of Africans in America before Columbus and the real reason slavery was ended.
A discussion of the DVD’s key points will take the morning into the noon hour. Lunch will be provided on-site. Afternoon sessions will be dedicated towards breakout group examinations of listed topical headings.
Kingdom Institute for Black Men’s Studies is a community of African American men organized to progressively benefit and grow from the knowledge, wisdom, genius, accomplishment and lessons inherent in our total experience from humankind origin through the present and onward into a reclaimed tomorrow. Instruction is cultivated through lectures/presentations, scheduled classes, specialty workshops, study groups, symposiums, seminars and one-on-one directional sharing.
A primary purpose of KIBMS is to serve as a corrective model whose design is to identify, challenge, and correct the distortions and falsifications of the Black man and of his African ancestry that have historically been present in both Eurocentric and in later emerging current day African American historical, literary, and cultural referenced arenas.
The KIBMS’s objective is to rescue, reinterpret, reconstruct, resurrect and restore first within our own community of men, then in our children, in our families, in our communities, in our institutions, and in our own envisioned future the natural essence, dignity and pride of self, history, and culture.
Like the lion, we as Black men must turn our backs on the hunter’s version, voice our own story and build upon the legacy, greatness and genius which, by birthright, are ours to reclaim and restore.
The lessons of our history and the grand models of our esteemed ancestry mark the path of ascension. This is clearly a possible, duty bound, and obtainable vision. Again as noted by Ali per his quote in the summit organizing packet:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. “Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”