Numerous cities across the country have created public schools that focus on educating African-American boys through the lens of African-American culture. Louisville will now join those ranks with a “males of color” academy slated to begin in the 2018-19 school year.
Anthony Smith is the executive director of Cities United, an organization focused on trying to stop violence related to African-American men and boys. He’s also the former director of Louisville Metro government’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.
He joined me to talk about the concept of the academy and how it fits into the overall mission of Cities United. Listen to our conversation in the player above.
On helping young, black boys succeed in education:
“When you look at community balance and you look at the homicide rate there’s a number of different things we all have to work on to get better. And a lot of times, it’s about systems, right. These systems that push young kids out and push them into the streets. So, you know, I think education is a big place to start and I think you’ve got to start all the way — at pre-k all the way through. So, you know the data shows that young black men and boys — that young boys of color are always at the end of the… are not performing as well as they should and could, if they had the right support.”
On employment and helping people of color find opportunities:
“I think the mayor and his summer jobs effort has been huge, and they’ve been really looking at and focused on how they reach young people inside of the neighborhoods that are most challenged and most impacted by violence. But I also think we have to have employers who are really willing to think about what the second chance opportunity looks like when we have folks who have records and how do you help them clean that up and get them employed.
“But we’ve always talked about making this about a two-generation approach. Because if our kids are struggling, that means their parents are struggling and we can’t just focus on the young person, we have to focus on the whole family. So how do you make sure that the kids get their first summer employment, but also mom and dad or whoever that caregiver is at home, has a full-time job with livable wages so they can help take care of that child as well?”
Thursday, during All Things Considered, we’ll talk with John Marshall, the chief equity officer of Jefferson County Public Schools, about the academy and its implementation.