On Feb. 1, 2019, Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO National CARES Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emerita of ESSENCE magazine, joined forces with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services African-American Heritage Committee and the Fatherhood Working Group as they kicked off Black History Month by hosting an event entitled, “My Brother’s Keeper Challenge: Are we doing enough for young men of color? A call to action from leaders.” The program highlighted the My Brother’s Keeper initiative of former President Barack Obama. By accepting the MBK challenge, NYC has pledged to continue public investments and maintain a data-driven approach to tracking outcomes for young Black men and provide them with the opportunities they deserve to be able to succeed. Taylor shared her strategies for equalizing the playing field for young Black men by providing mentoring opportunities through her CARES Mentoring Movement program.

Hundreds of attendees citywide participated in the event that was opened by ACS’s Commissioner David A. Hansell sharing what ACS is doing to obtain better outcomes for young men of color. The audience was entertained by Elijah Ahmad Lewis who sung the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” ACS’s Melvin Alston and David Peters welcomed the panel, and Shawn Dove, the campaign manager of Campaign for Black Male Achievement, served as the master of ceremony.

The esteemed panel included: Senator Brian Benjamin, New York state senator; Hon. Michael Blake, New York State Assemblyman; Aldrin Bonilla, Manhattan deputy borough president; Dr. Jim Bostic, executive director, Nepperhan Community Center; Assemblyman Al Taylor; Keith L.T. Wright, New York State county leader; Dr. Lester W. Young Jr., Ed.D, New York State Board of Regents.

The panelists discussed the gaps faced by boys and young men of color across New York City and shared strategies to address disproportionality and disparity across all systems. All the panelists agreed to keep the conversation and the movement going, as this work is beyond a one-day event. Taylor closed the event by emphasizing the importance of self–care for mentors and community members that work with our young men.