Young, black men face a particularly difficult road in this country. Statistics show that their plight is getting worse.
More than 50 percent of young black men in inner cities drop out of school. They lag in college attendance and graduation rates as a direct result. They represent a disproportionate number of people who are behind bars.
The statistics are depressing; the problems overwhelming. We are losing generations. But people are fighting to turn the tide in a variety of ways.
In Durham, one of those groups is the 100 Men in Black chorus. While we celebrate the beautiful music its members have been providing for the past 12 years, its mission goes far beyond entertaining and moving audiences.
The group offers fellowship and mentoring for its members, most of whom are African-American, and, as the name indicates, all of whom are men. They represent multiple age groups and a wide range of ethnic groups and walks of life. They love, according to the organization’s website, “to sing and share the ‘good news of the gospel’ through music.
The organization can count among its alumni the dean of students at Yale University and many other successful men. These are men who believe in supporting each other and giving back.
Members engage in community service, and the chorus gives college scholarships.
Alumni of 100 Men in Black, in interviews with Herald-Sun reporter Dawn Vaughan to preview their reunion concert Saturday night at Hillside High School, shared insight to the chorus’s impact.
Mario Bonner, who has moved to Washington, D.C., but remains dedicated to the group, noted that it’s important for the older members to be role models for the younger participants. “We show that we can be an inspiration all over the world.”
Indeed. Durham boasts many successful black men, but many also need inspiration. The 100 Men in Black can provide that inspiration and are doing their part to help others achieve, whether through college financial assistance or by helping build friendships and support among its members.
Durham should consider 100 Men in Black one of its local treasures.
Bonner succinctly described the group’s importance: “We uplift others, but also each other.” If you would like to be uplifted and help the group uplift others, $10 will get you into its reunion concert Saturday, May 31, at Hillside. Let these men inspire you.