Issues facing young black males focus of three-day conference

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By Jesef Williams

Community leaders and others will gather this week for a three-day event that addresses issues facing black boys.

The second State of the African American Male Conference starts Thursday at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster's Bradley Arts and Sciences Building.

Organizer Bobby Bailey said the conference was organized as a response to conditions and statistics that suggest blacks don't achieve as high as other groups. The aim is to discuss problems, present research and hear new ideas for programs that can be used locally.

Admission to the conference is $25.

"We want to continue to focus on the needs of the African-American male," Bailey said. "We want to find solutions to why they do not achieve well in both school and society."

The conference will feature presenters with local and national recognition, including educators Richard Ramsey and Mychal Wynn, whose book, "Teaching, Parenting and Mentoring Successful Black Males," has been used as a guide in local programs that target black youth.

Lancaster County School District personnel and others in the community will facilitate sessions as well. Topics include dress and outward appearance, gang awareness, parenting and leadership issues.

School Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore is encouraging all of the local schools to take part in the conference. He believes the event ties in well with the district's initiative to close the achievement gap among different groups of students.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to take advantage of this conference," Moore said. "It's a perfect opportunity for our folks to raise the level of awareness of research and best practices."

On Thursday, the opening session begins at 6 p.m. On Friday, the conference runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Food will be served and entertainment will be on hand throughout the conference.

"I expect a couple hundred people at least," Bailey said. "We're going to have a good time."

For more information, call Bailey at 313-2367 or 804-0124 (cell), or e-mail him at btbailey @comporium.net.

The conference is sponsored by Adopt-A-Leader, GEAR UP, Omega Scholars at USCL, the Lancaster County School District, TRiO Programs at USCL and USCL.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152