Deric Muhammad (left) and Mayor Sylvester Turner
Deric Muhammad (left) and Mayor Sylvester Turner at the Smart'n Up Black Male Summit on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 at St. John's Downtown. Photo by Jimmie Aggison.

The “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit, the event that occurs twice a year, recently hosted its second 2022 event on Saturday, Dec. 10 at St. John’s Downtown United Methodist Church.

Local activist Deric Muhammad founded the event which is a community-based motivational and educational summit designed to address the unique needs of Black men and boys.

“This is an opportunity to expose young Black males to empowering information, positive role models, potential mentors and critical resources to help them survive and succeed in an adverse society,” said Muhammad.

Muhammad said this particular gathering was slightly different than the others that he has hosted for the past 12 years.

“This Summit was special considering the dark cloud that’s been over the city since the killing of rapper Takeoff. Our young people are still grieving over the loss of one of their icons. How we process death as boys sometimes determines our ability to process life as men. We wanted to close 2022 out with a strong message to our youngsters—your life is valuable, and so is your fellow brother’s,” said Muhammad.

But even with the slight difference this go-round, the Summit stayed true to what it always does—make it plain.

“We do not sugar coat our subject matter at the Black Male Summit. Our message is strong. Our workshops include presentations about Entrepreneurship, Building Confidence, Stop the Violence, among other critical topics.”

Some of the Summit presenters included entrepreneur Chad Muhammad, Pastor of The Word Church Jamail Johnson, Brandon Denton (My Brothers Keeper), Reginald “OG1” Gordon and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“The significance of the Black Male Summit and our participation is that these young men can be what they can see,” said Turner. “They need to see us older guys in front of them, giving the sound, good advice, telling them how important and how valuable they are, and showing them that respect at an early age. You can’t wait until somebody gets in trouble and then go talk to them. I mean, you can, but that’s a little bit late. So, we need to get in front of them early, share our stories, and let them know quite frankly, when we were their age we were just like them. We’re no different. But it is important for us to come out and to share some of our time and our selves with these younger brothers.”

Coach Lewis Brown, owner of Mo Better Boxing, brought youth and adult boxers and coaches to the event.

“I found out about the event through a friend who emailed me the link because he knew we had a lot of luck inspiring youth in the gym, and I wanted to make sure we got them here so they could hear some positivity in the community,” said Brown.

One of the deliverers of that positive message was Pastor Johnson.

“I have been part of this summit for years,” said Johnson. “I believe in the mission that brother Deric Muhammad has as he has a desire to go and grab our young Black men before they are grabbed by society.”

Muhammad says the target age group of the event is 12 years and older. However, anyone (including women) is welcome to attend.

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Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...