7th Annual Striving for Success: Black Male Summit Held Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Receives Rave Reviews for Young Men and Mentors
Over 300 young men and 70+ mentors connected for a day focused on careers, college, life and success
“Good grades equal good money.”
“No matter what people say I can’t do, I can accomplish my goals.”
“Sports are great, but focus on my academics too.”
“Surround myself with positive people who are going in the same direction.”
These are just a few of the comments made by attendees at the end of the 7th Annual Striving for Success: Black Male Summit. Over 300 African‐American 8th,9thand 10th grade young men participated in a half day set aside for goal setting, role modeling and getting connected to programs and opportunities. The Summit is presented by the 100 Black Men of Omaha, Empowerment Network and Urban League of Nebraska.
“The young men did a great job today,” said Thomas Warren, CEO of the Urban League. “They were focused and participated actively.”
“The groups just keep getting better and better,” added James Mason, Executive Director of the 100 Black Men of Omaha. “It’s encouraging to see them paying close attention and making the most of the day.”
The young men were recruited and signed up at Omaha Public Schools and a few private schools for this well received event. They were introduced to African‐American men representing dozens of various occupations and professions.
“I’m thankful and appreciative that they took the time to share their experiences with us,” said one of the participants.
The mentors represented a who’s who of African‐American leaders in Omaha. Former Police Chief Warren, John Ewing ‐ Douglas County Treasurer, Terence “Bud” Crawford – World Champion Boxer, Timothy Christian – President of a Night Fox Entertainment, Pastor Cedric Perkins, Bishop Lance Foster and many others including crime prevention specialists, youth development experts, authors, neighborhood leaders, real estate professionals, sales and marketing executives, media consultants, business owners, coaches and many others. High school seniors, college students, young professionals and seasoned leaders alike dedicated the day and also committed to long‐term mentoring, coaching and role modeling.
The day started with a powerful speech from Jon Lucas, Operations Supervisor from Omaha Public Schools. Lucas also presented last year and was asked back by popular demand. He emphasized the importance of each person making the most of their skills and talents.
“We don’t want you to leave the same way you came in here today,” said Lucas. “Take advantage of every opportunity. Say yes to learning. Say yes to education. Say yes to your future.”
Luncheon keynote speaker, Dr. Tommie Watson, shared his powerful story of overcoming a family beset with drug addiction and brothers and sisters negatively impacted by the foster care and prison systems. He told the attendees how he was able to navigate the turbulence and turmoil by focusing on sports and academics.
“One of my worst memories was the day we were evicted from our house and they threw all of our belongings out in the front yard,” said Watson. “All of our neighbors and my friends were laughing and making fun of us.”
Watson shared how the negative circumstances could have led him down the wrong path like some of his siblings, but he decided to show his family that he was going to make something of himself.
His persistence and dedication led him to a scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota. After an injury ended his athletic career, he doubled down on academics and hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve been able to achieve tremendous success off the field,” said Watson, “because of my achievements in the classroom.”
Watson ended his speech with a compelling message on values, vision and verbal affirmations. He closed with a strong affirmation including the following words: “I am somebody. I will be the best that I can be. Each day. I will not waste time, because it’s too valuable, and I am too precious and bright.”
“The young men loved it,” said Tyrone Marshall, director of education and youth development at the Urban League of Nebraska. “They had nothing but good things to say about the day and truly appreciated this opportunity.”
The day also included breakout “real talk” sessions where the young men discussed a variety of topics including police/community relations, positive relationships, careers, college, politics, business ownership and handling peer pressure. They participated in interactive polling and provided direct feedback through evaluations.
“There’s nothing like this in the country,” said Len Gordy, assistant coach for the Creighton Bluejays. “The young men were attentive, focused and very interactive. This is a day I look forward to every year.”
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For more information or to get involved with on‐going efforts, please contact: The 100 Black Men of Omaha at firstname.lastname@example.org