In a recent keynote address, Israel L. Gaither, national commander of the Salvation Army, challenged black men to rise up and lead. He said, "Enough is enough, now is the time for the rising of those who dare to lead with spiritual, cultural and intellectual integrity."
Following his model, a viable blueprint for black men should be characterized as L.E.A.D.
- Learn to love God, others and ourselves. This becomes our core value.
- Education is a life or death issue for blacks and the black man in particular. You must graduate from high school and you must do well in high school. There is no other option.
- Accountability for reversing the dismal conditions facing black men rest with black men. We cannot abdicate this responsibility to anyone. Fathers, accept responsibility for your sons and daughters. That means you love your children, you set boundaries and limits for them and you protect them.
- Determination and cooperation will govern relationships between black churches, fraternities and other organizations. The pooling of resources and talent is an important strategy to address the black male crisis. A collective rather than a go-it-alone approach is more effective.
Now, there is no shame in needing or asking for help. However, we should be clear that the heavy lifting is ours to do.
As Mr. Gaither put it "rise up, rise up, it's getting late.