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Organizers hope summit offers solutions to the challenges black males face today

Something will be noticeably missing during a daylong event at Clinton Junior College on Saturday -- the women.

The school will host the Black Male Summit: Respecting the Past, Building our Future, an event designed to bring black men together and encourage them to take responsibility for their lives and to find solutions to challenges they face.

The summit, scheduled to coincide with Black History Month, is the brainchild of a committee of community members who came together during a Juneteenth celebration last summer.

"There were just a number of us sitting at a table together, and we were talking about the incidents of violence and the lack of jobs and all of those things that concern everybody but particularly African-American men," said Kashaka Kikelomo, executive director of York County First Steps and a member of the planning committee. "We decided to take action."

The event will include workshops on topics such as the importance of fatherhood, how to survive an encounter with the authorities, credit and finance and getting involved in the community.

In the organizing committee's statement for why the summit is needed, the group cited the large number of black men in prison compared with the number of black males in college, the number of black children in single-headed households and the rising AIDS rates among blacks.

Sandra Oborokumo, the first woman on the committee, said organizers are trying to improve the lives of the young men in the community.

"We know there are men without role models, dads or resources," she said. "We want to provide for them to help them rise up out of the pits of despair with job training, fatherhood and leadership skills."

Kikelomo will lead a workshop that opposes the use of the "n-word" by black men.

"The workshop is aimed at helping them understand the negative impact that word has and hopefully to encourage them not to use that word, especially when referring to one another," he said. "It is not a term of endearment but in fact a term of enslavement."

The entire program is being targeted toward boys and men ages 12 and older. Organizers are hoping people will sign up in advance because space is limited to 200 people. Those who sign up in advance will have priority in choosing their workshops.

A continental breakfast and full lunch will be included in the free workshop.

WANT TO GO?

• What: The Black Male Summit

• When: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Clinton Junior College

• Cost: Free

• Registration: Call 980-4357 or e-mail blackmalesummitcommittee @yahoo.com to register in advance. On-site registration will be available if space allows.

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