Students from Howard University invited members of Paine College to debate the “state of young black men in America” at Paine’s chapel Sunday afternoon.
Demetrius McCoy, a senior at Paine, said the image of the black male has been tarnished.
“We need to remember the black leaders of the past,” he said.
Issues that were discussed included complacency within the culture and image.
“Complacency has become an issue,” said Eli White, a freshmen at Howard. “We cannot let complacency exist.”
“If my brother can’t read, it’s my problem,” said John Armstrong, another Howard panelist. “This is all of our issues.”
Another issue brought up was the idea of having everyone help in raising children.
“We need to re-establish our village,” said the debate’s moderator, William Leon Ward, an educator with Will Power Motivation Group in Washington, D.C. “We also need the young people to embrace the village.”
The debate was instigated by a statement by former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who called young black men “an endangered species in American society,” according to a news release.
Howard University’s panelists included students from the school’s Drew Hill Hall Council, a prominent dormitory.
“We want to educate people who haven’t been told where they can be and where they can go,” said David Thomas, 18. “We want to bring people up.”
The panelists come from all across the nation, which they felt was important to show all black males are facing the same problems.
Ward said young black men need to create their own encouragement and reclaim their future.
“One fact that tends to be ignored is hearing from the men that live it,” he said to the panelists. “We need to hear, ‘What is your reality?’”
The Rev. Willie J. Thompson Jr., a Ph.D. student at Howard, said the panel itself was an indication that young black men are moving in the right direction. He said just having the discussion is empowering the generation.
Ward said that while there was not have time at the Sunday debate to discuss all the issues facing young black men, he pledged the discussion would continue.
“Never quit,” Ward said. “Embrace someone else and help them not quit.”