Representing high schools from as far away as Pittsburgh and Pebble Beach, some 120 graduating high school students participated Tuesday night at the College Bound Brotherhood’s graduation celebration at the Kaiser Center in Oakland.< p>Each student took the stage in a ceremony that honored their passage from high school to acceptance into college, stating the higher education institution of their choice to an audience of 400 youth advocates, family and friends.
The students took the opportunity to give shout outs and mention their full ride scholarships in academics and athletics to schools, including California State East Bay, Southern University, UC Davis and Yale.
Each student was draped in traditional Kente cloth mantles.
Keynote speaker Benjamin Todd Jealous, former head of the NAACP and venture partner of Kapor Capital, spoke of his pride at seeing so many successful young Black men, while discussing the sobering realities facing young people today.
“We have the right to get a job in any company, but (we) lost small businesses by the thousands,” he said. “We have the right to purchase a home anywhere, but our neighborhoods are unstable. It’s not enough to know to fight but have stock in what you already have.”
“This is the most murdered generation in history and the most incarcerated on the planet, and African American males are 3.5 times more incarcerated than in South Africa during apartheid,” he said.
“We have many civil rights era victories. We got what we fought for, but we lost what we had.”
Jealous also told the students to live by the African proverb, “I am we.”
“Understand your value and stand up for each other,” he said. “Fight for yourselves and the community because I believe in each of you, I believe in what you all will become.”
“This event is my favorite of the year, a day to highlight and visually see a collective of young Black men making this declaration of the next step of their lives,” said Cedric Brown, managing partner of Kapor Center for Social Impact.
The College Bound Brotherhood is a network supported by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, the College Access Foundation of California and the Marcus Foster Education Fund. Through investments and strategic partnerships, the organization seeks to increase college readiness, enrollment and completion rates for African American males in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Supporters include the Omega Boys Club, Concerned Parents, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Striving Black Brothers Coalition and Youth Radio among others.
For more information visit: www.CollegeBoundBros.org.