Young black men reach out, provide role models

June 20, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel edition of The Sunday Sun misidentified Kevin Jackson in a story about a father-son breakfast sponsored by 100 Black Men of Maryland.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

On the day before Father's Day, three young black men stood in front of a group of youngsters in an Annapolis church and stressed how their cohesive families are helping them stay focused enough to become engineers and lawyers.

That's part of an important message on role models and career choices that a group called 100 Black Men of Maryland hopes to drive home to youths who may be tempted by less-productive pursuits. The group sponsored yesterday's "Father and Son Breakfast" at First Baptist Church of Annapolis.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"I prefer being an individual," said Russell Pinckney Jr. of Annapolis, who will study engineering at the University of Maryland in the fall. "Just because everyone else is doing something doesn't mean you have do it. You are more of a person doing your own thing."

Jamie Boston, a freshman at the Johns Hopkins University who wants to be a politician, said, "The way to get around peer pressure is just to go out and do what you want to do. Let the others talk about you and make fun. You will be the one making $100,000 a year, and they will be working at McDonald's. You will have the last laugh."

The three young men who spoke at the second annual breakfast said their fathers helped guide them through childhood.

Other speakers said that it's important to remember that many of the children who came to eat pancakes and eggs live in single-family homes.

"Think about all the kids who have one parent," said Annapolis Police Officer Carl Bouie, who was 8 when his father died. "My mother brought me up, along with five other children. I never really had a man to push me forward."

Walter Blasingame of Arnold, a longtime member of the church, said that "that should not be used as an excuse for what a child out of that household becomes."

The men who served on the panel all said they picked their goals early and stuck with them.

"With anything you do, there will be things that pull you away from that chain of action," said Broadneck resident Kevin Johnson, a Morgan State University engineering graduate who plans to attend graduate school. "It takes a lot of discipline. You have to be committed to stay away from anything that would pull you from your goal."

School, the speakers stressed, is important.

"I didn't even know what a report card was when I was young," said Mr. Boston, of Annapolis. "But I was at this one particular award ceremony, and my name kept getting called. I thought I must be doing something that people will recognize me for. It kept growing."

The dozens of children who attended the breakfast seemed to be focused, even at an early age.

When Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden went around the room and asked what the boys wanted to be when they grew up, their answers included a lawyer, an engineer, an accountant, a midshipman, a police officer and a basketball player.

"You notice that being a basketball player wasn't first in this crowd," Mr. Snowden said, adding that it's vital for people to recognize that young black men are not a lost generation.

"Look at the news stories," he said. "You might be pessimistic. But that is not the whole story. There has to be another story."

Too often, Mr. Snowden said, sports figures or singers are looked upon as role models, when the real role models are preachers and parents and community leaders. He noted that Charles Barkley, the Phoenix Suns basketball player, has been criticized for saying he is not a role model.

"Charles Barkley is right," Mr. Snowden said. "When we need to reach out to someone, we reach out to someone who can directly help us. It is not the superstars we reach out to."

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