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Aiming For The Stars: African American Males Display Brain Power

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Story by Michael Hubbard and Photos by Michelle London Bell

A recent report issued by the American Council on Education shows that African American males are graduating from college at a lower rate than other ethnic groups.  Over a six year period the study showed that African American males graduated at a 35% rate.  In comparison White males, Hispanic males and African American women graduated at rates of 59%, 46% and 45% respectively.

The explanations for these statistics are multifaceted, but David Robinson Jr. and Kevin Mondy, co-founders of the African American Male Academic Bowl, are demonstrating  that solutions can be found.   On Saturday January 29th, teams of African American boys from all over the Dallas area competed in the 2nd Annual African American Male Academic Bowl.  The AAMAB is a single elimination, knowledge competition that is open to boys in grades 4-7. Teams consist of 3 players,  an alternate and a team coach.  The contest is conducted in similar fashion as the popular TV game show Jeopardy.

Dr. Davie Daniel, President of UTD presenting a warm welcome to teams and parents

The Academic Bowl was held on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas and the atmosphere was electric.    The teams proudly marched into the opening ceremonies clad in matching uniforms as if they were Olympians. They were greeted by cheerleaders, an excited crowd and a pre-competition pep talk from Hall of Fame running back, Emmitt Smith.

The contestants came ready to flex their intellectual muscles and all of the matches were closely contested.  At the end of the day the Faith Cumberland Presbyterian Church walked away with first place in the 6th – 7th   grade division and  Jerry Junkins Elementary School, a  runner-up last year,  took the crown in the 4th -5th  grade division.
In just two years this competition has garnered tremendous support from the business and academic communities, and according to Mr. Robinson the best is yet to come.  “Expansion is always a part of our vision,”  said Mr. Robinson.   “This year has been more of a greater Dallas event. Next year we’re planning for a true Metroplex event.  We have DISD joining us as a partner and we anticipate Ft. Worth ISD getting on board as well,”  said Robinson.

State Senator Royce West and State Representative Eric Johnson participate in African American Male Academic Bowl Awards Presentation

The immediate impact this event has on these young men is evident to all of those in attendance, and  according to Kevin Mondy, Executive Director of Project Still I Rise, Inc. , the lessons they learn will influence them for years to come.   “To see the sportsmanship aspect of the competition; young men shaking hands, encouraging one another and team-building is a sight to behold”, said Mr. Mondy whose program had a total of 10 teams in the competition.  Mr. Mondy went on to say, “You see that boys from different neighborhoods and communities can come together and compete with a certain level of respect.   You don’t see if very often.   The goal is to grow it every year so that the impact can be greater.”

As this event continues to gain momentum the hope is that African American young men will begin to embrace learning and developing their intellect with the same zeal they display on the football field and basketball court.  “We want the boys to become aware and accept the fact that there is a culture of learning, that there are things outside of athletics and video games that can help you intellectually”, said Mr. Robinson.

Michael Hubbard is a freelance writer in Dallas, TX. He can be reached at mhubbard23@aol.com

  • Brian Paul

    This is what i’m talkin about future real blk men in the making

  • Derwin Peppers

    Great story and hopefully a catalyst for a new paradigm shift.

  • Keevin Mondy

    Great story Mike.

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