A meeting designed to provide a forum for African-American males to discuss issues affecting quality of life in their neighborhoods and the community at large will be held at 6 p.m. today at Sim Scott Park.
Lowndes County supervisor Leroy Brooks, who organized the meeting, said he hopes discussions will help develop a plan of action to help improve the quality of life in the African-American community, including establishing programs for youth mentoring, community volunteering, workforce education, fatherhood enhancement and crime prevention.
“The whole notion of the plight of African-American men came to my vision back during the election back when I was out campaigning that I saw so many guys standing around all day drinking and not doing anything,” Brooks said. “I didn’t develop any clarity as to how I wanted to approach this until after the storm in April when they were reaching out for volunteers from various churches and we really didn’t have an African-American church to reach out and say, ‘We’ll volunteer to cut limbs.'” It became clear to me that there was a missing component.”
While the meeting is under the name ‘Men of Color,’ Brooks said it should not be viewed as a means of excluding women or other races.
“I think it’s very important for there to be a dialogue among some of the stakeholders, and I think to a great degree, black men,” Brooks said. “I think some of the issues are so unique by virtue that they seem to be isolated to a great degree in the African-American community. I think it’s important for men to step up and say ‘We’re going to protect our families, we’re going to protect our communities and we’re going to be leaders.’ When we’ve thrashed out this uneasiness and distrust, we’ll be reaching out to everyone in the community.
Brooks said future plans involve forming a non-profit organization based on carrying out the initiatives of the mentoring programs established.
“It’s trying to bring men together of color and to cross generations and value gaps and form some kind of coalition to make the community better,” Brooks said. “We can do better. I just see kind of a sense of apathy and a sense of hopelessness permeating the community. We just need a spark.”
For more information, contact Brooks at 662-329-5871
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.