More than 850 students in all grade levels participated in Evanston Township High School’s Black Female and Black Male Summits, held on Sept. 20 and 22.  This year’s theme, “Reclaim” helped students examine their voice, future, history and identity as a black student.  Breakout sessions, discussion groups, and a young professionals panel helped connect participants with resources to support their academic success and well-being.

This was the third Black Male and second Black Female Summit at the school. Both are part of the Social Consciousness Series, which serves to support students of various affinity groups.

Community engagement was instrumental in the planning, Nicole Parker told the District 202 School Board at the Oct. 10 meeting. Parents, staff and students were engaged and did a bulk of the planning over the summer. The Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc. “partnered” with ETHS on the Summits, “attending all meetings, participated as facilitators and chaperones,” said Ms. Parker. The City of Evanston, Northwestern University, Niles North and the Latin School also participated. Between the two summits, there were over 228 volunteers.

“The feedback was overall positive,” said Principal Marcus Campbell.  Overall attendance was down “a little bit” for the male summit, he said, at least partially because of a newly instituted online preregistration process. He also said that they will “rethink” the breakout sessions for next year because they were “hard to standardize.”   

“More females participated and were more engaged (this year),” said Board Member Monique Parsons.  These Summits are “really starting to click” with students.

Mark Metz, Board Member, asked if there were “other ways to tap into volunteers.”

“We are working to secure long- term commitments,” said Mr. Campbell.

Keynote speakers for the events included David Stovall, Professor of African American Studies and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago; Connie Lindsey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust; and Yusef Shakur, author and educator.

Prof. Stovall addressed students at both summits, sharing stories from his childhood, explaining the school-to-prison pipeline, ways to interrupt manipulation, and the power of young people claiming their bodies and themselves. “I’m very worried when people approach you all say ‘young people are the future’ … you all are much more. You all are right now. The world is happening to you right now,” Mr. Stovall said. “

Video highlights of the ETHS Black Summits are available online at https://youtu.be/puuPcsGUgig.