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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MU hosts inaugural Leadership and Brotherhood Summit for young men of color

Photo by Ricky Labrada
Nearly 250 young men of color attended a leadership conference at Marquette University.

Marquette University hosted the inaugural Leadership and Brotherhood Summit for Young Men of Color Nov. 29. The event was in collaboration with the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement, with nearly 250 students from nine different high schools in attendance. There were also 16 sessions students could choose from, each of which focused on a particular topic, such as civil rights history, academic preparation and success, and leadership.

Marquette’s Acting Provost Kimo Ah Yun and vice president of student affairs Xavier Cole were among those who spoke at the event. Lanelle Ramey, director of the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement in MPS, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and other members of Milwaukee’s Black Male Achievement Advisory Council also spoke.

“The event was a summit designed to bring boys of color from various high schools together to discuss various leadership topics and have them create a sense of brotherhood amongst each other and experience the campus of Marquette University,” Ramey said.

Last spring, the co-directors of the department Juan Baez and Ramey approached the university. Ramey said they were inspired by the African American Male Initiative Summit that started nearly six years ago at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“As an alum of Marquette and the fact that Marquette is in the heart of the city, we wanted to replicate something similar to allow more boys of color to participate in activities such as this one,” he said.

Jacki Black, the associate director for Hispanic Initiatives at Marquette, said Ramey and Baez approached Marquette faculty, including Black and Rob Smith.

“(They approached) to see if we might be interested in collaborating on some efforts to engage young men of color we might not otherwise be reaching, or who may be falling through the crack,” Black said.

She said with the support of former Provost Dan Myers and other university leaders, funding for the event was secured. The Office of Student Affairs; Education Opportunity Program; Admissions; Urban Scholars; and Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and Outreach; as well as students and colleagues from MPS collaborated on planning the event.

“It has been awesome working with this extremely dedicated and creative group to put this event together,” Black said.

Black explained that statistics show the educational system often overlooks young men of color.

“There is sometimes a narrative out there that discourages young men from minoritized backgrounds from pursuing their educational and career aspirations and often the pathways to their goals are difficult to navigate,” she said.

Marquette University’s commitment to being engaged in important conversations and impacting the Milwaukee community and obviously some of those issues is being academic achievement and  leadership growth among young people,” Dr. Robert Smith, a history professor, and director of Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach, said. “We’ve been in direct conversation with Milwaukee Public Schools and the Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement, and that office in particular has been doing a lot of important work around closing the academic achievement gap and also creating opportunities for young people to develop to their fullest.” 

Smith said that he and others had previously been involved with similar efforts with Wauwatosa West High School, as well as events at UWM.

The opportunity for Marquette to be involved in that process really just came from folks talking about wanting to create more and more opportunities where universities that are engaging with young people and not just simply to recruit them but to really say ‘this is your city and these institutions are welcoming to you,’” Smith said. “We have all of these resources and opportunities when we partner with folks across the community to create a rich, vibrant conversation that young people will benefit from.”

Smith explained the event was not to recruit students to Marquette, rather to expose students to the college experience.

“We were just doing our part of being a responsible institution in the city of Milwaukee, making sure that we are opening our doors to folks who, maybe down the road they’ll want to come to Marquette,” Smith said. “We just wanted to make sure that as an institution whose mission is to have that sort of deep commitment to social justice, that we take a day and get some of our young high school students on campus and give them an opportunity to hear from local experts but also be in a room with each other from different schools and have a good time.”

Black said this summit is just a first step in the university’s collaboration as it thinks about other opportunities to expand outreach and engagement.

“We were happy to do a small part in putting together what we hope will be annual event that enhances their academic success, affirms their cultural identity, reinforces their aspirations and provides connections to the university and other community leaders who can help them achieve their goals,” Black said.

“We know that coming to campus one day isn’t going to change a young person,” Smith said. “We hope they came away knowing that there are so many people around Marquette University and around the city that are really committed to their success. Sometimes you just need to know you’ve got somebody in your corner, and that’s enough to kind of propel you forward.”

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