Summit to reach out to black youth

Summit to reach out to black youth

August 28th, 2010 by Yolanda Putman in News


* What: Kickoff Breakfast for Boys Leadership Summit

* When: 9-11 a.m. today

* Where: The Mill, 1601 Gulf St.

* For more information, call 400-0938 or e-mail

In the first three months of this year, a 19-year-old shot a bystander pumping gas at a Kanku gas station, guns were found at Orchard Knob and Dalewood Middle schools and at least 14 people ages 18 and younger had been shot, including a 2-year-old child injured when a bullet pierced a car window near Wilcox Boulevard.

To help stop the youth violence, Chattanooga Fire Capt. David Brooks and two of his friends started a mentoring program this year. They took 43 inner-city youths to the CNN Center in Atlanta, to college campuses and to several African-American history museums this summer.

"I want to take them outside of their comfort zone," Brooks said. "We're taking them beyond the city limits so they can see other things that relate to their history and employment."

Brooks is one of more than 100 black men expected to attend a breakfast today to plan how they will attempt to save troubled youth. Travis Lytle organized the breakfast to bring men like Brooks and others together to plan a Boys Leadership Summit.

"We're taking ownership of our problems in our community," said Lytle, a vice president of Cornerstone Bank.

The summit is planned for Oct. 9 at Brainerd High School. The summit is aimed at black males in grades 6-12 and will discuss how to help increase employment opportunities, reduce violence, stop the spread of sexually transmitted disease and reach academic goals.

All men interested in helping youths are encouraged to attend, said Chris , a manager at BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

"Wouldn't it be powerful to see 150 men lined up and to say to the young people, 'We're here for you,'" he said.

Brooks and his friends have been working with youth at St. Paul AME Church. Members of 100 Black Men have provided scholarships and mentoring, and other mentoring groups work with youths in schools. The summit is a way to bring all the groups together, organizers said.

Ramsey said the Boys Leadership Summit is a result of author and radio personality Michael Baisden's 1 Million Mentors campaign.

Baisden started the campaign after the September 2009 beating death of Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old honor student in Chicago who was attacked by a gang while walking home from school. Chattanooga is among hundreds of cities that Baisden visited this year to drum up more mentors.

"There isn't a lack of organizations," Lytle said. "There are a lack of men and kids involved in the organizations. We feel like our job is to close that gap."