During Black History Month we spend a lot of time talking about our wonderful black pioneers of the past (MLK, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois etc), and the paths they’ve paved for us and how they’ve helped shape our future. However, I believe in progression and I feel it’s time that we start talking about what WE are doing, what WE can do and how WE can work together to be great! I also know that there are many other African Americans that have accomplished great things that we don’t highlight. Many times when we highlight African American accomplishments, people feel as though it’s not tangible; meaning these people are held in such high regard that they’re almost untouchable and many have passed on. I can’t recall a time where we actually sat and talked about people, especially young people, who are giving us something to aspire to everyday. I want to highlight the work that young African Americans are doing on a level that we all can relate to.
And to that end, her first profile this month is of Howard Jean. Here are some highlights:
From 2008 to 2011, Howard served as Director of the Call Me MISTER program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. The MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Towards Effective Role Models) is a collegiate program designed to encourage and support African American males to dedicate their lives to becoming role models in the field of education. As a product and partner with the program for the past 11 years, Jean created a pilot and complimentary program for women interested in teaching Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The program is entitled Teach STEM Scholarship Project (TS2 Project) and is in its 4th year of programming. In 2012, Howard served as the Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Augusta Richmond County in which he supported in increasing the graduation rates of high school students in the Richmond County Public School System, utilizing “Race To The Top” Funding.
In response to Kim’s question, ‘what does being a black man mean to you?’ Howard replies:
“The complexities that exist within our culture as men who are black are results of hardships, institutionalized agendas, psychological conditioning and generations of damaged souls. Those same complexities and misfortunes produced some of the world’s most iconic, talented, controversial, dynamic & strongest human beings. America has dealt us an interesting hand that we’ve learned how to manipulate and because I’m a betting man who sees that images of success have an uncanny resemblance to me; betting on black are the only odds I chose to play. I’m playing to win and for keeps.”
For more, head over to SoulRevision’s Spotlight on Greatness series.