Detroit City Council Members James Tate and Andre Spivey Launch New Task Force Aimed at Tackling Issues that Black Men Face

City Council members James Tate, left, and Andre Spivey The Detroit News, file From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140330/METRO01/303300013#ixzz2xjoYt7pk
City Council members James Tate, left, and Andre Spivey The Detroit News, file

City Council members James Tate and Andre Spivey have launched a new task force aimed at addressing the most troubled segment of Detroit: black men.

The two second-term councilmen are spearheading the Black Male Engagement Task Force, which aims to address high unemployment rates, drug use, lack of education and poor quality of life faced by African-American men. The council authorized the panel in February.

The goal is to provide mentoring and life coaching opportunities for young men to improve Detroit, Tate said.

“When you look around the country, African-American males typically find themselves in the more challenged parts of the spectrum as it relates to education, employment (and) youth and crime rate,” Tate said. “We, as a community, have to identify ways to improve our family structure. Improving our family structure will be the building blocks to improving our city.”

Ken Coleman, a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit and a longtime political operative, said Detroit’s city government hasn’t tackled the issues facing black men in almost 25 years. The last time he recalls is when then-City Council member Barbara-Rose Collins raised it in 1990 with her “Save the Black Male” campaign following the 1989 conviction of her son for armed robbery.

The council initiative is in line with President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. Launched last July, the president’s effort seeks to determine what private and public efforts are working and provide resources to support the endeavors throughout the country. It also wants to better connect state and local officials, the private sector and philanthropists.

“We do have African-American males who are doing the right thing, who are giving up their time, services and resources to support the community,” Spivey said.

But problems remain, he said.

“With crime (in Detroit), a lot of the faces are African-American males…. Black men die at an early age,” Spivey said. “We can bring spotlight on those issues.”

Since the council approved the task force resolution, it has brought together a group of about 18 founding members from community groups such as the Legacy Foundation, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Omega Psi Phi fraternity to create a plan of action. The group is looking for ways to connect successful people with those who are in the most need.

“It was imperative as elected officials to pull together as many men who are currently doing great work,” Tate said. “What we want are individuals who are successful in life and taking care of their responsibilities. We need to tap into your gifts, skills and talents.

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Source: The Detroit News | DARREN A. NICHOLS

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