The recent Smart’n Up Black Male Summit, held at St. John’s Downtown, delivered everything it promised, including dynamic presentations, thought-provoking workshops and mentors from every aspect and experience within the Black community focused on empowering Black boys.
Some of the presenters included Reginald “OG-1” Gordon, whose organization, OG-1 Operation Outreach works with youths that are either presently incarcerated or recently released. Based on the ‘Scared Straight’ program Gordon founded while incarcerated in 1983, OG-1 Operation Outreach incorporates more educational tactics over fear-based tactics, out of the premise that “fear is only temporary, while educational lasts a lifetime,” said Gordon.
A special appearance was made by Warren Randle, the father of Jalen Randle, the young brother shot and killed by Houston police in April. Jalen’s father urged attendees to always fight for justice and an end to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence.
Additionally, Reverend Jamail Johnson, pastor of The Word Church, several Smart’n Up Black Male Summit alumni and founder of the event, activist Deric Muhammad, offered presentations that challenged attendees to learn Black history beyond what is taught in schools, work toward becoming an entrepreneur and the power of land ownership, just to name a few.
But youth and their parents who were in attendance, shared that they were inspired and moved to be better and do better, both for themselves as individuals, and for our community, as a people.