Sunday, January 10, 2010

Forum Calls For Responsible African-American Men For Black Communities

Forum Calls For Responsible African-American Men For Black Communities

By Ryan Poe
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, January 10, 2010

Speakers at a Memphis forum said Saturday that African-American men should take more active roles in dealing with the problems facing their communities.

Despite the cold weather, the Mid-South Men's Forum brought more than 150 men together at the Ben Hooks Job Corps Center gymnasium in Whitehaven to discuss the need for strong male leaders in education, the economy and religion.

Panelist and keynote speaker Nuri Muhammad, a minister of the Nation of Islam in Indiana, said men were both the problem and solution for problems confronting the black community.

"Men are the nucleus of the family, and the family is the nucleus of the community," Muhammad said. "To go after change, we're going to the root of the problem. Change starts with the men."

Several small groups met last year to discuss changes black men need to make. The groups came up with a three-part plan that was introduced and discussed at the forum by a panel of leaders and experts.

Panelists included Van Turner, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, and Bernal Smith II, president of the Greater Memphis Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America.

In addition to calling for men to be more active in their communities, the plan calls for the creation of an investment club where minority business owners pay $50 a month, which would go into a loan pool.

Smith, answering a question from the audience, said the loans would be interest-free and the borrowers would only have to pay a small administrative fee.

The need to look after each other was one of the lessons Kingsbury High School student Richard Merriweather, 16, said he took from the forum.

"It's important to know how to take care of yourself and what to do in situations where you can't," Merriweather said. "You should be united with your people."

-- Ryan Poe: 901-529-2623

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