be a problem.”
Also, as reported by the Center for American Progress: “African American students are arrested far more often than their White classmates. The data showed that 96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by schools during the 2009-10 school year.”
“Our black boys are bringing a host of issues into the schools that aren’t being dealt with in a healthy way. But I don’t think that job falls only on the shoulders of the school systems. Teachers and administrators are already overworked and underpaid. The reality is that it is everybody’s responsibility to help fill the gaps,” says Powell.
Along with Powell, 35, the co-founders of LAWCF – Siraaj M. Hasan, 35, Curtis Blackwell II, 35 and Samir O. Cummings, 35 - have been doing their part in the movement of saving our boys before they are caught and swallowed whole by a societal undertow.
Starting as friends in their undergraduate years, the founders are alums of Hampton University. “We thought it was pretty unique that we all entered college and graduated on-time together. After graduation, we began discussing ways to give back and after reviewing different models, we ultimately decided to create our own,” shares Powell.
LAWCF’s principal focus is education, with components that groom the mentees in health awareness, leadership and community service activities and career development. The group has awarded scholarships and in the summer they run the Sound Mind, Sound Body Football Academy.
One of the lessons, especially brought to the table during Zimmerman’s trial, is diplomacy.
“We continue to stress the power of choices and their consequences. In every situation that we face in life, we have the power to choose how we’re going to conduct ourselves in response. And every choice that we make will have a positive or negative consequence on us and others around us. We can’t control what other people do, but the moment that we as African-American men in this society believe that we have no other choice, and engage in a physical altercation we have given away our power,” says Powell.
It is part of a conflict and resolution lesson that Martin says he shared with Trayvon that included reminders about respect; for self and authority.
Martin adds that another conversation for our boys is letting them know their lives mean something. “We have to figure out a way to ensure they are not afraid. We have to let them know that as parents we love them. I think it’s real important that we as a nation instill in our kids that you don’t have to come from a two-parent home to be successful. A lot of kids across the country feel as if they have nothing to live for. We have to let them know that we’re here to help. We’re here to lead them.” says Martin.
As the support continues, Martin is thankful for it all, especially towards President Obama for his remarks. It is the genuine support that Martin hopes will go on and not inadvertently turn into a #JusticeForTrayvon fad. “We’ve used this tragedy as a source of strength. No matter the difficulties of this, as long as we continue to have our faith we will not lose hope. We’ll be alright,” says Martin
Tiffany E. Browne is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @TiffanyE.Browne