Brother2Brother travels to Detroit for SAAB National Conference
Contributed by Brother2Brother
African American boys are falling behind in almost every measure compared to other ethnic groups. In 2009, a Brother2Brother (B2B) chapter was established in the Des Moines Public Schools to address educational barriers experienced by male students of color and to empower these students to set higher standards of achievement while fostering a spirit of caring. B2B strives to increase the number of male students of color who successfully complete middle school and high school and go on to positively impact their communities.
“People invest in what they believe in,” says Bill Proctor who serves as the Brother2Brother District Coordinator, “and Des Moines Public Schools has invested in these young men to help make a positive impact on the development of leaders in our schools and in our community.”
On April 6, forty-six Brother2Brother members and six advisors departed for the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) National Conference in Detroit, Michigan. Members from Callanan Middle School, Hiatt Middle School, McCombs Middle School, and Roosevelt High School stopped at the University of Iowa for a college tour and lunch on campus. At the conference the young men were involved in sessions ranging from leadership and community building to racial healing. A panel discussion was present to discuss “Policing in the 21th Century” where members were able to discuss interacting properly with police officers and knowing one’s personal rights. This was a time of learning and fellowship as the members also had time to tour Motown and Downtown Detroit.
The conference was powerful and inspirational, giving the young men hope, promise, and vision. “I felt like they were all my brothers and I felt a sense of love and inclusiveness,” said Elijah Mouring of McCombs Middle School. While attending the conference the Des Moines Brother2Brother program volunteered their time by helping sack lunches for the homeless in a group effort with The Hashtag Lunchbag Foundation of Detroit for a community service project. Des Moines Public also received a national award for SAAB District of the Year. This was received for the outstanding job and dedication Des Moines Public Schools has shown towards the Student African Brotherhood Program. This is the basis of B2B with young men feeling included, empowered, and motivated while embracing the principles of accountability, leadership, self-discipline, and intellectual development.
The members chose to adopt the conference theme “From Ideas to Action” as a framework to process what they learned and to develop an action plan that will enable them to implement these ideas at their respective schools and in their community.
Currently, the Des Moines Public School’s chapter of B2B has 165 active members and 11 advisors who meet at Hoover, North, Lincoln, Roosevelt, McCombs MS, Callanan MS, Weeks MS, Hiatt MS, Meredith MS, Harding MS, and Merrill MS.