LITHONIA—Like bees drawn to honey, students swarmed Dikembe Mutombo, eager to meet him, hear what he had to say and get his autograph and pictures.
The former NBA center, who played most of his basketball career with the Atlanta Hawks, was one of the role models who attended the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County’s Eighth Annual Youth Summit in February.
Mutombo wasn’t the summit’s only big name. Students and parents got to hear from former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, who served as the keynote speaker. Satcher discussed the health crisis that is disproportionately taking its toll on the African American community in the form of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and kidney failure.
In addition to celebrity chef Marvin Woods, who put on a healthy cooking demonstration, they heard from author Dr. Alduan Tartt, who is a psychologist for teens.
The daylong summit, held at Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, drew about 500 participants, males and females who came for a day of learning and mentoring under a theme focusing on living a healthy lifestyle.
“We are excited about taking on the health crisis because our youths do not realize how the choices they make today may impact their future,” said Matthew Ware, president of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County. “It is time we have a serious conversation with them about what lies ahead if they do not make different choices.”
Students watched a theatrical production called “Black to Life” put on by youth dancers from DanceMakers of Atlanta and enjoyed a performance by “Da Famous Boyzz.”
There were also speakers to address parents who attended the summit. Businessman Gregory B. Levett, Sr., Pastor Robert Bookman, Dr. Naim Shaheed, Dr. Christopher Holliday, and Bobby Howard, all members of the DeKalb 100 Black, led a panel discussion on various health disparities and health issues including mental health and organ donation.
“We wanted to pack the summit with lots of information that would be impactful to the community as a whole. Both, the parents and students walked away informed and enlightened,” said Mae D. Jones, executive director of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb.
The 100 Black Men of DeKalb has positively impacted the lives of more than 5,000 students over the past 20 years through an after-school leadership and developmental program called The Leadership Academy. The program consists of students enrolled in the sixth through 12th grades in DeKalb County Schools.
The 100 Black Men of DeKalb’s Shining Stars
The 100 Black Men of DeKalb honored three youths at its Eighth Annual Youth Summit. The students were lauded for their work in and outside of the classroom.
Kayla Turner, an 11th grader at Arabia Mountain High School in Lithoina, received the Community Service Award; Brandon Fountain, a 10th grader at Marist School in Atlanta, received the Academic Excellence Award; and Kyle Cobb, an 11th grader at Grady High School, received the Economic Empowerment Award.
“The awards honor Dr. William C. Brown, the founding chapter president. They highlight youths who have achieved Academic Excellence, demonstrated outstanding Community Service and exhibited the Spirit of Entrepreneurship in the community,” said Cornelius Stafford, who chaired the Youth Summit. “In addition, it will also recognize an adult leader/organization that has contributed significantly to youth causes and programs.”
All of the students honored have a GPA of 3.8 or higher.