The 100 Black Men celebrated 30 years of service on Dec. 8. 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. The organization began when Carl Washington approached Kappa Alpha Phi fraternity brother, Robert Brackins II regarding starting an organization entitled “The Society of 100 Black Men.” Washington’s and Brackin’s intent was to form a Black male leadership organization that would take care of the African-American community through education and work/employment, and training.
“After Carl approached me, I did research and discovered there was a 100 Black men organization in Los Angeles. Rather than re-create the wheel, I took it upon myself to go to Los Angeles and see if there were benefits to aligning ourselves with them.” says Brackins.
In Los Angeles, Brackins met Superior Court Judge Roosevelt Dorn, also the mayor of Inglewood who invited Brackins to attend their Black Tie Gala. At that time, Los Angeles was the national headquarters for the organization before moving to Atlanta.
At the Los Angeles Gala, Brackins met Rep. Maxine Waters, Sidney Portier, Chief of Police Bernard Parks, Johnnie Cochran, Dr. Warren Valdry and founding member Dr. William Hayling who had started the national chapter in 1986.
At that time, there were four chapters, located in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Missouri and Indianapolis. The Bay Area became the fifth, with Earl White, Jimmie Thigpin, Lloyd Lawrence, Dr. Walter Shevington, Willis White, Robert Johnson, Esq., John Douglas, Gene Nash, Dr. Barry E. Breaux, Len Canty and Will Bass, becoming founding members. They met every week at the Lakeview Club, during which time they established four pillars of outreach: mentoring, education, economic empowerment and health awareness.
Since 1992, the 100 Black Men have given out over $1.4 million in scholarships, and have mentored thousands of students into their “Collegiate 100,” a program run through UC Berkeley which supports students through college. The organization mentors students at Frick Middle, Castlemont High, Fremont High, Oakland Technical High and SR. Martin College Preparatory School in San Francisco.
The organization has an outstanding athletic program run by Tommy Smith through their Youth Movement Program that teaches health and fitness through athletics, now in its 18th year. The program has expanded to focus on nutrition, food security and are working in partnership with U.C. Davis to develop a youth food literacy curriculum.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of our fully integrated partners in the corporate and tech world. We are proud that we have doubled the footprint of corporate sponsorship,” says Brackins.
Despite all of their achievements, Brackins laments that some organizational standards have lapsed under new leadership. “Our Gala for the past 30 years has always been a black-tie event. That means men in tuxedos and women with floor-length gowns. I believe it is imperative that we respect this standard of dress to assure the continuance that our affair remains a first-class event,” he said. “I also find unacceptable the use of tracks with our entertainment. We own our sponsors and supports first class entertainment, especially living in the Bay Area that is so rich in its offerings of musical talent. As a co-founder of this organization, I feel it is my responsibility to assure we remain the example for our youth. When they look at us what they see is what they’ll be. That’s why we have to remain best.”