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College Bound Brotherhood Celebrates Success of Young Black Men

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A group of nearly 200 young Black men stood before family, friends, and the community ready to embark on their next journey in life on June 9 at the College Bound Brotherhood Graduation at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland.

 

 

The annual graduation was hosted by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, College Futures Foundation and the Marcus Foster Education Fund.

 

The College Bound Brotherhood, established in 2008, seeks to increase the college readiness, access, and persistence of African American young men from the San Francisco Bay Area, and supports them throughout college.

 

During the ceremony, the young men were recognized for their achievements in high school and also received scholarships from College Futures Foundation to help with their college tuition.

 

Each graduate announced the college they will be attending in the fall and were presented with kente stoles. The list of institutions included: UCLA, Howard University, San Francisco State University, Tuskegee University, California State University East Bay, Sonoma State University, and Morehouse College, to name a few.

 

Frederick Hutson, founder of tech company Pigeonly, delivered a keynote to the graduates. David Thomas, a former Brotherhood student who graduated from Howard University this spring, also shared some inspiring and encouraging words with the young men.

 

For the graduates, this is just the beginning, and the outpour of support from the Brotherhood for them makes a difference.

 

“I wasn’t really sure how I was going to pay for college, but Brotherhood provided me with some of the funds to get to college,” said Kelton Runnels, a graduate of McClymonds High School who will attend University of La Verne this fall.

 

He said of being honored at the graduation, “It felt good because it felt like I was supported and that nobody wanted to see me fail.”

 

Malik Stills-Bey, having graduated from Oakland Technical High School, will attend Southern University this fall and plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in business.

 

Speaking with the Post on the Brotherhood program, Stills-Bey said, “It gives me pride in what I’m doing with my education. It helps me so that I can evolve and be successful and be proud of what I’m doing.”

 

“And, knowing that I have a support system that I can go to at any time so that they can help me, or just looking to my brothers and just trying to inspire young brothers around Oakland and the Bay Area to do better,” he added.

 

Some nonprofit partners with the Brotherhood program are Alive and Free, Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Youth Radio, The Hidden Genius Project, Parents Connected in Antioch, and Striving Black Brothers Coalition at Chabot College.

 

“All of this is wrapping support around their journey through school,” said Cedric Brown, Chief of Philanthropy with the Kapor Center. “Our partner nonprofit organizations are also starting to build up their alumni network so that they remain in touch with these young men as they move through school – such as EOYDC, Alive and Free. We’re trying to get everybody to have a long view and to provide that support.”

 

“We want the graduates to know that their opportunities are limitless,” said Justin Davis, Program Officer with College Bound Brotherhood. “The education process never stops, so continue learning, continue challenging yourself.”

Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

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Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email 1blackmenspeak@gmail.com.

 

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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