After eighteen months in suspended animation, Freedman Academy came back to life this month with a field trip of ten mentees and four mentors to Chicago.
The group traveled on August 5 to the Windy City on the South Shore commuter railroad and then took a 90-minute Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour on the Chicago River. Before boarding the South Shore for the trip back to South Bend, the group made a brief stop at “The Bean,” the glistening sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
After more than a year of enforced isolation, the 100 held its first in-person gathering of the post-pandemic era on Saturday, June 5. About two dozen members, along with spouses, families and friends, ate, drank and made merry while paying tribute to our departed brother Robert Smith.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities of color harder than others’ and, now that vaccines have become available, vaccination rates among people of color are lagging behind those of other groups. To address these imbalances, the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend, in cooperation with Beacon Health System and the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences at Indiana University South Bend, has produced a video urging black and brown people to follow all of the cautions needed to avoid infection and to get vaccinated.
Ours is a politically nonpartisan organization. But we are not politically uninterested. We cannot afford to be. From the moment the first cargo of enslaved black bodies was offloaded to these shores four centuries ago, our lives, our fortunes and our very personhood have been uniquely affected by politics. Never was that more the case than this year, 2020, and in the election of November 3.
Do you have a son, grandson, young male neighbor or acquaintance who could benefit from mentoring by successful, exemplary black men in our community? If so, please consider enrolling him in Freedman Academy, the group mentoring program of the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend.
The 100’s programs have been sidelined for the moment by the COVID pandemic, but the trust we have earned during the first ten years of our existence continues to pay dividends. Within the last two months, two local organizations—Martin’s Super Markets and South Bend City Church—have affirmed their belief in the mission of the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend by making substantial donations.
I am deeply saddened at the loss of Congressman John Lewis. I join members of 100 Black Men of America, Inc., along with fellow Americans and caring citizens globally, in mourning the loss of this hero of human rights. The 100 Black Men network extends our condolences to his entire family and to the community that loved him. He was a 100 member who lead by example and he responded to our requests for Congressional Black Caucus representation at town halls and forums. We can look across the career of John Lewis as an example of unwavering leadership. He set a standard that our mentees from middle school to college can study and emulate.
How do you say goodbye to the legend that was Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian? A man whose advocacy work spans and embodies the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Vivian’s voice never stopped speaking truth to power and his efforts to bring about change, related to global human rights, continued until today. Dr. Vivian was the only person unconcerned about his age, since he was often heard saying there was still work that needed to be done. He just did not stop working for social justice in America and around the world. Advocating for causes to improve the lives of African Americans, along with causes that positively impact the lives of youth (the next generation of leaders), was in the DNA of this remarkable man.
As members of an organization of African-American men, we have been deeply wounded in spirit by the slaying of George Floyd. Once again, a black man has had his life snuffed out unjustly by people who are sworn to serve and protect us.
Thanks to an initiative by member Isaac Hunt, the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend and S.A.V.E. (Stand Against Violence Everyday in South Bend) joined forces recently to acquire and distribute hand sanitizer, latex gloves, and masks to barbershops in our blood pressure program.
The following information about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease comes from a physician whose daughter is an assistant professor in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University. It was conveyed to the membership several weeks ago by Dr. Alfred Guillaume, chairman of the Education Committee.
The leadership of The 100 goes beyond mentoring and enhancing economic opportunity. We also lead in exposing our communities to the richness of black history and culture. The latest instance of this leadership occurred on Feb. 22, when, in partnership with the South Bend Civic Theatre, the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend sponsored a performance of “Gem of the Ocean,” the first in legendary playwright August Wilson’s American Century cycle of 10 plays about African-American life in the 20th Century.
Airman First Class Ashanti Jones is a 2017 graduate of Riley High School and a former student of the Freedman Academy.
Working with his mentor, Ashanti developed a plan that would combine his desire for military service and his interest in a law enforcement career.