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RUSD High School Students Inspired and Motivated after Attending Black Youth Summit

01/07/2016

Blair Hargrove was armed with knowledge heading back to Walden III Middle and High School. He had just attended the Summit on Black Male Youth-Milwaukee hosted by the UWM African American Male Initiative and he was ready to share what he learned with his friends and family.

“I think it’s important for us because a lot of things are going on in the world, shootings, the death rate is ridiculous, poverty level - and it’s mostly made up of African Americans. I think we need to learn about it and need to change it and that starts with ourselves.”

Hargrove, along with about 400 black males from middle and high schools around Milwaukee and the surrounding communities, including about 80 students from RUSD’s five high schools, attended the day-long summit.

The event is part of a collaborative effort with other school districts in southeastern Wisconsin to address achievement gaps.

“Specifically, we wanted to reach out to the group that tends to fall farthest behind, which is our young black men,” said Dr. Eric Gallien, deputy superintendent. “I think it’s important for our young men to understand that they have a community of support.”

During the summit, students got the opportunity to sit in on different seminars to learn more about black history, financial literacy, how to prepare for college and more.

“It’s really cool to have like minds around you that like the same things as you and want to learn about the same things,” said Israel Smith, a junior at Case High School.

“The teachers take it seriously and want us to learn, I think it’s a cool thing that they’re doing trying to get us involved and educated and actually educated in what’s going on,” added Hargrove.

That’s what it’s all about noted Dr. Gallien.

“There’s a network of African-American men who are willing to reach out and help these students. With this summit, we are giving them the opportunity to make those connections and know that they are not alone.”