Evanston Township High School’s black male summit on Sept. 26 attracted more than 400 students from all grade levels to hear wisdom and inspiration from adult leaders from the school community and keynote speaker Dr. Calvin Mackie. The summit was planned as part of ETHS’s ongoing efforts to look at issues of racial equity in the high school, the school community and around the nation.
ETHS Principal Marcus Campbell said the goal for the summit was to connect male students to adult mentors and a wealth of resources available at ETHS and in the Evanston community in support of their social and academic growth. The summit was open both to males who identify themselves as “black” and other students who wished to attend. More than 130 people attended the event.
“The summit was exactly what it needed to be and more,” said Mr. Campbell. “Our staff and community volunteers thought this day would be inspiration to only our students; we were quick to recognize that we would all be inspired as well.”
The summit opened with an inspirational speech from ETHS senior Mark Daniel Shelton, student representative to the District 202 Board of Education, who encouraged students to think about their own possibilities by looking at the many examples of powerful contributions and legacies of black men in the United States and around the world. The keynote address from Dr. Calvin Mackie followed. Dr. Mackie said he shapes his message to both challenge young people and inspire unspeakable hope.
“Hope is the only thing that is going to take us from where we are and help us to get to where we need to be,” Dr. Mackie said. “Everybody wants you to achieve, everybody wants you to be great, but a whole lot of people haven’t acknowledged the fact that many of us [black males] are in despair, and to go from despair to achievement, you’ve got to go down a street called ‘hope’,” he added.
During the Summit, students participated in a variety of activities, including workshops designed to help students construct their own identities as black males in today’s society; group discussions with other black male students and adult mentors from the Evanston community; a networking hour with ETHS partner agencies and local institutions to learn more about community resources, services and programs; and a planning session to identify an action plan for the school year, including mentoring opportunities for black male students.
“The black male summit was inspirational, a day filled with hope and with providing our black male students with the tools and supports they need to achieve their goals,” said ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “At ETHS we are committed to providing targeted interventions to support all our students.
“The success of the black male summit is a model for us to use as we identify other ambitious targeted interventions for our students, based on their specific needs. I want to express my sincere thanks to all the adult leaders in our community who helped make this such a successful experience,” he added.