DONNA FRISBY-GREEN- WOOD, PROGRAM DIREC- TOR/PHILADELPHIA
When a gathering of leaders opens with them spending a day with 30 incarcerated teen boys, you know it's not gong to be just another conference.
Last week, while much of the world focused on William and Kate, 300 education leaders gathered in the City of Brotherly Love to seek knowledge, share experiences, and collaborate on how to change educational outcomes for males of color. The Knight-funded 5th Annual Gathering of Leaders, hosted by the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC), is designed for leaders to connect, share and learn.
But what made this gathering unique is that it keeps boys of color front and center. After spending the first day with incarcerated young men, the second day nearly 80 young men from COSEBOC-affiliate schools from across the country shared their dramatic interpretations and testimonials about the power of their resiliency and why they are and will continue to focus on their education. There was not a dry eye at Temple University as we all swelled with pride. Young men were at the forefront even during an awards dinner recognizing the efforts of seven prestigious leaders.
Young men from Boys' Latin of Philadelphia High School introduced the honorees, the Young Kings, 6-12 years old, from Boston, Mass. sang and recited poetry and a jazz trio of three young men, ranging in age from 11-19 years-old and studying music after school at the Philadelphia Clef Club, had everyone on their feet asking for more. It is the brilliance and talent of those young men highlighted throughout the weekend that lies within all males of color and that COSEBOC honoree, Shawn Dove of the Open Society Institute, reminded us that we sometimes have to pull it out.
While the gathering gave leaders an opportunity to talk and listen, it went a step further by lifting up schools that work, connecting academics, funders, practitioners and school leaders, and inspiring everyone to return home energized and armed to support better schooling for males of color.
I take my hat off to COSEBOC Executive Director Ron Walker and to Board Chairman Dr. Larry Leverett, as well as to the COSEBOC staff for organizing a community of folks, from all races, to do everything they can to take action on behalf of males of color.