Jackson Leaders Plan Summit To Support African-American Men

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When you walk around Jackson College, you see young African-American men headed to class, studying, or visiting the library to apply for jobs. But Lee Hampton, the college's Director of Multicultural Affairs, says there are should be more of them. And many of the the issues that prevent these men from becoming educated arise when they are very young.

"When there's not a strong home base the community must do more, and the system... the school system, the penal system, whatever system is helping them, but do more to circumvent and to help out," said Lee Hampton, Director Office of Multicultural Affairs, Jackson College.

That's why Hampton and other local leaders in Jackson are bringing those systems together, for the second African-American male summit. The first meeting, back in 2008, spurred some successful programs, based on ideas from academics, political leaders, and members of the community. One of the most successful new programs was a partnership between Jackson College and the Jackson County Jail.

"Because of that we had many of them leave county jail and enroll in college. Many times when they're in the penal system, whatever branch or whatever phase it is, coming out they are not very employable because really it's a competitive market," said Hampton.

Finding employment and education opportunities for these young men is just one of the summit's goals. It will also help local organizations recognize what programs are currently successful and should be maintained.

"If, for example, JCC has a great program for this, and say the United Way has a great program for this, instead of me trying to duplicate that service or create that type of service again, these types of summits will help us learn how to pull those resources together," said John Willis, Director of the MLK Center in Jackson.

Local leaders and community members will share resources, hoping to find the best ways to help young African-American men on the road to success.

"These young people want to do the right thing, but it's up to us to reach out. We have to let them know there are means out there," said Willis.

Other speakers at this summit include Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Dan Evans, The Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, and Congressman Tim Walberg. The summit starts tomorrow morning at 8 AM. Members of the community with innovative ideas are urged to attend. If you want to sign up, call Jackson College at 517-796-8470. They hope this meeting of the minds is even more successful than the last.