Summit seeks to change statistics

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The statistics are alarming. More than 800,000 black men are in federal, state and local prisons. The numbers are even worse when it comes to education and job rates; however, some local leaders hope to change those numbers.

"If we don't, the streets will," said Kim Staley, the Superintendent for Moss Point Schools.

Staley and two of his principals brought three busloads of young men to the first ever Brother to Brother Male Summit.

"I have to lead by example, so if I don't take the initiative to set by example, then I can't expect anybody else to," said Staley.

Like many of the boys at the summit, Staley was raised by a single mother. But with encouragement, new partnerships and renewed hope, these men hope they can change those statistics.

"We're going to have to take an active role in engaging our young men at a very young age, so we can instill some values in them. So that we can build strong communities, a strong state and country," Staley said.

Michael Daniels agrees.

"That shows that there is an interest, and they care," said Daniels.

Daniels was one of the organizers of the event.

"I hope that these organizations and these adults can pick up the ball and run with it. What we've provided is a platform. Not just for these teens to have outlets but also for these businesses to network, for some of these parents to talk to these organizations," Daniels said.

The boys at the summit say they are ready to take on the world.

"I learned that I can work wherever I want and accomplish whatever I want. I just got to set my mind and go straight to it," said 12-year-old Keshaun Wells.

"I can be anything that I can put my mind to," said 17-year-old Damien Tate.

More than 1500 young men, community leaders and single parents attended the inaugural event and organizers say they are preparing for an even bigger Brother-to-Brother Summit in 2009.