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June 6 , 2006
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer to speak at EMU summit about African American males

YPSILANTI - Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer will be one of the keynote speakers for the “The State of the African American Male in Michigan: A Courageous Conversation,” summit at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center Friday, June 9, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

The summit will focus on the conditions affecting African American males in schools and society. Examples include high rates of school violence and suspensions; gender and masculine identity issues; HIV/AIDS and other health crises; the over-representation in special education, high incidents of crime and incarceration; and poor access to higher education.

Representatives from K-12 schools, higher education, community organizations, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, mental health providers and religious organizations are scheduled to participate in the summit, made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“The issues are such that everyone in the state needs to be concerned about producing a productive work force – one that includes everyone in our society, especially African American men,” said Vernon Polite, dean of the EMU College of Education. “Educators, politicians and community workers are taking note of the plight of African American boys and men, and it is quite timely and fortunate that the Kellogg Foundation has deemed it important enough to sponsor this summit.”

Archer will speak at approximately 9:40 a.m. 

Wil Seegars, a graduate of EMU, will be the keynote speaker for the lunch session. Seegars, who gained notoriety recently for creating the “Hip Hop Skillz” board game, will talk about the hip hop culture and how it relates to young African American males.

Wallace Bridges, professor of theatre arts at EMU, will be the keynote speaker for the afternoon session. Bridges will take excerpts from several classic plays and apply them to the current state of African American males.

Throughout the day, there also will be focus groups discussing several questions related to the topic.

Polite said he hopes that dialogue that is created by the summit can impact and move beyond problem identification, and begin to consider solutions in the form of educational imperatives and initiatives that can positively impact African American communities throughout the state.

For additional information, go to www.emich.edu/coe/summit or call 734.487.1060.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 “to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations.” Its programming activities center around the common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community, and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy communities.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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