By Dennis Freeman II
San Francisco-The 100 Black Men of America, Inc. organization celebrated its 25-year anniversary looking over their shoulders, but moving forward at the same time.
With its yearly convention held in San Francisco, the organization, which was founded 48 years ago by a group of black men looking to do more for their communities, reflected on triumphs and accomplishments in the year gone by.
Members representing the 116 chapters nationwide of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. also concentrated on creating conversations on how to best benefit the communities they work, play and live in.
Mentoring young people, encouraging education and fostering leadership qualities remains the focus of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc., said Albert E. Dotson, chairman of the national organization.
“The 100 accepts its position as the leading mentoring organization and we devote countless volunteer hours to listening for understanding, training, coaching and empowering youth and communities through our mentoring efforts,” Dotson said.
The four-day conference generated panel and workshop discussions on health awareness goals and passing along information on access to health care and economic empowerment. Oakland resident Deborah Alex said the conference provided information she can use.
“It’s practical Information,” Alex said. It’s useful and timely.”
Based in Atlanta, 100 Black Men of America, Inc.’s national convention drew notable celebrities such as actor Danny Glover, talk show host Star Jones, author Terry McMillan, motivational speaker Sekou Andrews, Olympian Tommie Smith, radio personality Shirley Strawberry and Oakland Raiders football star Langston Walker.
Besides the usual workshops and panel discussions, part of the festivities at the conference included entertainment from rapper Doug E. Fresh and songstress Ledisi, an outdoor cookout and a youth rally at nearby McClymonds High School.
Despite the outstanding work the organization has already done, there is a lot more to be done to help and reach future generations of young black men, said John Wade II, a member of 100 Black Men of America, Inc.
“It’s quite simple,” Wade said. “We have to keep the dialogue going, give information and continue to push. The hard part is getting the people who truly need the information and assistance to even show up.”
Chris Chapman, who is also a member of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc., echoed Wade’s words, saying getting the information out there to the public about what the organization is all about would be better served through mass distribution like “going door to door, through school assemblies, community centers and social news.”
This year’s conference, dubbed “Celebrating 25 Years of Mentoring Leadership,” was hosted by the 100 Black Men of Bay Area and 100 Black Men of Silicon Valley chapters. Sponsors like Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, and Scholastic (1,000 books donation) helped make the event a success by donating items such as computers, plasma televisions, iPods, bikes and more.