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‘Man Up Symposium’ a success

By News | Last updated: Jun 10, 2014 - 9:39:28 PM

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Joint effort focused on Black male development in day long program

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Over 100 people took part in a symposium designed to help young Black males avoid pitfalls like incarceration, violence, school failure and dropout and handle the hazards posed by racial profiling and a lack of opportunity.

The Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. organized and hosted the program as part of its Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (EMBODI) initiative, a national effort aimed at uplifting Black males educationally, socially, and emotionally. Through EMBODI Delta Sigma Theta Sorority chapters work with organizations that mentor, serve and direct young males.

The symposium, “Man Up: Equipping Your Toolbox for Manhood,” was held at the Community College of Baltimore County. Partners and presenters included Black Professional Men, Inc., 100 Black Men of Maryland, Inc. and The Final Call newspaper was a sponsor. Speakers included Kai Jackson, national correspondent for the Sinclair Broadcast Group; LaMarr Darnell Shields, author of 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know, and Aaron “Herkules” Graves of WPGC 95.5FM.

The Man Up! Symposium covered a variety of topics, including character building, healthy relationships, and what to do if stopped by the police. A closing session focused on the meaning of manhood. Sessions were also held for parents and included presentations on parent-child relationships, and dealing with mental health issues and awareness of such problems. Presentations were created for youngsters from 3rd grade through college-age and their parents. The boys were placed into groups according to age and rotated through a series of age-appropriate, interactive workshops.

Young man participates in mentoring session in Baltimore County.
Parents attended separate workshops for discussions about raising children in this millennium—and dealing with challenges like social media and proper conduct in cyberspace, mothers raising sons, fathers raising sons and healthy parent-child relationships.

The Baltimore County Alumnae Chapter regularly collaborates with men’s groups by holding regular workshops throughout the year. This event was free and open to the public. One-hundred and twenty-five people were at the symposium, including young males, parents, volunteers and facilitators.

“We started with a basic question for men: If you had 3-4 hours to speak to a group of young men that you would never see again, what would you say?  Based on that, we moved forward with planning and topic selection for our first symposium.  The plan is that it will become an annual event,” said LaTasha Peele, a member of the Baltimore County alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and overall chair for the event.

LaTasha Peele of Delta Sigma Theta sorority was lead organizer of the Man Up Symposium.

One parent said, “I was so elated to have had the opportunity to attend the MAN UP! Symposium along with my son. This was a great experience for me despite my profession and age. I’ve obtained some great parental information. I just wanted to say great job to the Delta EMBODI mentoring program.”  

“I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to the EMBODI committee for giving me the opportunity to be a part of an amazing and much needed event such as the MAN UP! Symposium. It was so great, seeing firsthand, the impact the symposium had on the parents as well as the young men. This experience has definitely positively affected my passion to educate the community. Thank you again and God bless!” he said.

The event was such a success that interest in bringing the symposium to other cities has been expressed.