For years I have written and talked about creating Black Colleges in the west. The partnership created by then State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino between the University of California and Black Colleges grew out of that idea, and it will continue to grow this summer as a second Summer Institute will become a reality. Information on that is available at the Journal office.
In Memphis, Tennessee, I discovered a new and positive twist on the idea of expanding the knowledge of the Black College experience. The Memphis Urban League, called the MEMPHIS URBAN LEAGUE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS (MULYP), joined with a group of Howard University student volunteers to create a program they call the HOWARD UNIVERSITY ALTERNATE SPRING BREAK.
The program, which was chronicled in the TRI STATE DEFENDER NEWSPAPER, takes the spring break as an opportunity to mentor young students. This program is in its 19th year and many of the Howard students have roots in Memphis. Their focus has been a short four-day program where the Howard scholars mentor in two areas, Health and Education. This years' program enrolled 114 Memphis city schools students.
In breakout sessions, the students get to discuss subjects that include financial responsibility, time management, and life changing subjects like having to do your own laundry and avoiding gang life. The program provides exposure to college through real life experiences from peers.
The article in the March 14, 2013 issue of the Tri State Defender. The Defender is one of the two hundred Black owned newspapers of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, of which The Journal is a member. They pointed out that the Alternate Spring Break (ASB) program has been to cities including New Orleans, Atlanta, and Baltimore.
As one always thinks about the future of Black America, it hits me that this is another idea on the menu of ideas that seeks to enrich, teach and improve the image and life opportunities of Black America. As we stand now, we are defined by the music industry with ungrateful stars like Beyonce, whose latest album actually takes the time and space to join the chorus of Black stars calling young Black women bitches.
I must say that I'm proud of the fact that locally we have programs that contribute to the cause of improving the opportunities of Black Youth to share in the great opportunities of America. In the Pasadena/Altadena area, we have programs like the Young Black Male Mentoring program, the Young African American Male Conference program, and the Young Women's African American Conference. Also there are a number of summer programs that exists to help on the journey, but we need to always be open to create and/or discover new ideas and opportunities, Howards' Alternative Spring Break is just such an idea.
As a personal note: We like to think that we at the Journal contribute by highlighting the positive role models and activities of the nation and the community.