SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It can be tough for young men of color to succeed in Western Massachusetts. Just take it from Kareem Evans II, a twelve year-old from Springfield. Evans told 22News, “They think that we’re some type of gang member and that we’re going to shoot people and that we have a higher chance of going to jail than most people.”
The Black Men of Greater Springfield gathered at Third Baptist Church for their “Boys to Men Breakfast” on Saturday. Boys ages six to eighteen were encouraged to bring their dads, uncles, and foster parents to start a conversation about the issues facing people of color in Western Massachusetts.
Azikiwe Chandler, a Vertias Prep Charter School teacher, told 22News some of the kids he works with face challenges most can’t even fathom. Chandler said, “I’m dealing with children who have witnessed their own parents being murdered. I’m dealing with children whose parents are suffering from addiction.”
African American men of all ages shared stories of racial inequality, and how they beat the odds to become successful. The Black Men of Greater Springfield believes a positive role model can make all the difference in a child’s life.
“What they need more than anyone else, or anything else, are people who care about them and embrace them.”