Mentors and mentees gather for a group photo during the First Annual 100 Black Men of Metro Birmingham Awards ceremony. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

The Birmingham Times

100 Black Men of Metro Birmingham held its First Annual Mentoring Awards Program last week at Oxmoor Valley Elementary School.

Nine students were recognized for their accomplishments while in the program. They were Samuel Craig, Oxmoor Elementary; Adrian Whitely, Oxmoor; DeShawn Cook, Oxmoor; Kayleb Henley, Oxmoor; Emanuel Kelly, Oxmoor; Xavier Murphy, Hoover High School; Antonio Pippens, Ephesus Academy; Gabriel Davis, Ephesus and Brandon Bryant, Ephesus.

Mentors with 100 Black Men addressed students and parents during the program. Attorney Ronnie Rice, who serves as president of the 100 Black Men of Metro Birmingham and works with Alexander Shunnarah Injury Lawyers, P.C. at the firm’s Birmingham headquarters, spoke during the program.

“My message to you guys is ‘break the mold,’” he told the young men. “A good friend of mine . . . always talks about [how] sometimes we get caught up in the complacency of life and the only way to move to the next level is ‘break the mold.’ And you have to shock yourself. You have to do things you haven’t done before. . . I know society throws a lot of curve balls at you whether it’s a family member dying, getting a bad grade . . . but keep your head up. Don’t be scared to step out of what society has painted you to be. That’s not who you are. You determine who you are.”

Rice was joined by members of the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists (BABJ) and told students it was important for the mentors to give back because “we once sat in the same chairs as you guys. Somebody once came to us and said, ‘I see the potential in you’ . . . Don’t be afraid to break the mold because that’s what all of us did.”

Students also heard from Melvin Love, principal, Oxmoor Elementary and Eddie Bradford, Mentoring Chairman of 100 Black Men of Metro Birmingham.

100 Black Men of America, an Atlanta-based men’s civic organization, whose motto is “What They See is What They’ll Be”, has more than 100 chapters across the country including one in Birmingham. Its goal is to educate and empower children and teens and provide positive role models and leaders to guide the next generation of African Americans and other youth.

Full Disclosure: Barnett Wright, The Birmingham Times executive editor, was part of the BABJ group that worked with students.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

100 Black Men of Birmingham holds 1st Mentoring Awards Program

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