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'Black Male Challenge' summit highlights positive messages

More than 100 young black men are expected to gather Monday at Portland State University for the “Black Male Challenge.”

Mark Jackson, cofounder of the nonprofit REAP Inc., which is hosting the Aug. 25 event, says the gathering stemmed from a series of Black Male Challenge forums at local high schools early this spring. Also, it came in response to an invitation from the Oregon Legislature in February asking students to share their experiences in public education.

Yet Jackson says the recent gang violence only elevates the need for the summit, and heightens the awareness of youth engagement needs in the community. REAP, which stands for Reaching and Empowering All People, works to promote leadership potential and identity of young black men.

The hope from the free daylong event is to "highlight the positive activities that occur everyday in our communities that are helping to share the future leaders of our city," Jackson says. “Helping to develop the next wave of leaders is instrumental and critical to the economic and social landscape of our future."

There will be seminars and keynote speeches by seven black male leaders, including state Rep. Lew Frederick; REAP cofounder Levell Thomas; businessman Roy Jay; Portland Bureau of Development Services Director Paul Scarlett; Intel financial specialist Mustafa Hakim Jones; and Cory Butler, coordinator for National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball.

Attendees receive a free breakfast, lunch, transportation, and Adidas T-shirt.

For more, visit www.reapusa.org.