100 Black Men,  General Motors encourage young people to pursue stem careers

By Brelaun Douglas (NNPA/DTU Fellow, Atlanta Voice)

Cadillac 30th Anniversary 100 Black Men Convention

A young participant shares his art work during a workshop titled ““Bringing STEM Education to Life,” at the 30th Anniversary 100 Black Men Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. (Todd Burford/Cadillac)


In an effort to boost minority participation in science and technology, 100 Black Men of America recently hosted a panel discussion with representatives from General Motors to encourage young minorities to think outside the box when it comes to their career paths.

This summer, 100 Black Men of America, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering African American youth, held their annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., that focused on topics like civic engagement and managing money. The event also included a panel discussion titled, “Bringing STEM Education to Life,” a workshop geared towards getting youth interested in science, technology, engineering and math fields, commonly known as “STEM.”
Panel members included Sherwin Prior, managing director for General Motors Ventures; Tobin Williams, executive director of human resources and corporate staff for General Motors; and Aaron Richardson, senior manager for IT development for General Motors who discussed how STEM was involved in something young boys often love: cars.
“[Technology] is absolutely essential. Over 33 years, the company that I work for [has become] a very different company,” said Williams. “Thirty-three years ago it was primarily a manufacturing company. Three years ago it was primarily a finance company and today it’s pretty much a software company. We are continuously looking for individuals who have the capability in software. There is a blending in terms of the software skill capability between engineering and computer science.”
Prior agreed, stating that STEM is all about “ thinkers and problem solvers” and that the panelists were some of the people who drive the technology behind cars.
The panelists also talked about the challenges that the young people may face in an industry or career path where most people don’t look like them.
In 2012-2013, Black males accounted for just 8.7 percent of the people who earned degrees in STEM fields, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“Opportunities are rarely convenient,” said Richardson. “They’re often disguised in something that seems like, ‘oh, I got to do this,’ or ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that.’ It’s always disguised in challenge. So I challenge you to think about that as you think about how you want to continue your learning in the STEM area to think about the sacrifices that you have to make that will ultimately lead to significant benefits in the long term.”
Prior also told the youth not to be discouraged by the lack of diversity in STEM fields.
“It’s about changing the narrative,” he said. “Don’t believe that African Americans aren’t doing phenomenal fantastic things. They just aren’t talked about in the media like they should be.”
After the discussion, participants lined up to ask the panelists questions about how the technology in the cars worked and about the science and engineering that goes into building the cars. Questions included things such as what is the future of jobs for workers when more and more jobs are becoming automated, how safe the vehicle is and what the future of the technologic capabilities of the car looked like.
Participants were then invited to draw their own cars and decide what type of technology, old or new, the cars would include. The young men designed everything from cars that could hover and drive themselves to cars that could be unlocked with a fingerprint rather than a key.
The crowd was populated with young, Black boys, mainly middle and high school-aged, from across the nation including 13-year-old Noel Towson, who finds the 100 Black Men beneficial to him.
Towson, along with five other young men from the South Bend, Ind., chapter, came to the conference with his chaperone Eldridge Lewis Chism Jr., who is also a 100 Black Men member. Chism has been involved with the organization for years and found the conference and panel beneficial because it gave the young men “new thoughts and new ideals and hopefully provide[d] them an opportunity.”
“My mom took me to the ‘100 Black Men’ the first time,” said Towson. “I liked what they taught us, the life lessons and how to better prepare ourselves for the future, so I just stuck with it.”
Brelaun Douglas is a 2016 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” (DTU) journalism fellow at the Atlanta Voice. The DTU journalism fellowship program is sponsored by Chevrolet. Check out more stories by the fellows by following the hashtag #DiscoverTheUnexpected on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more about the program at nnpa.org/dtu.

8,000 people open accounts at Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta, with branches in Alabama

By: Taryn Finley Black Voices Associate Editor, The Huffington Post



 Atlanta executive staff of Citizens Trust Bank

In the weeks following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, more and more influencers, like Solange and Killer Mike, have started to #BankBlack and have transferred their money into Black-owned banks.

Now, a historic black bank in Atlanta has seen a spike in business. In just five days, 8,000 people have submitted applications to join Citizen’s Trust Bank, according to 11 Alive. Citizens Trust also has branches in Birmingham and Eutaw, Alabama.
“It’s a tremendous propel forward for the bank and the future of the bank and bringing new relevance to a bank that’s been here for 95 years. And, it’s a statement about what the next 95 years will look like,” Jay Bailey, chairman of the bank’s Next Generation Advisory Board, told the local outlet.
The bank’s CEO and president, Cynthia N. Day, thanked Killer Mike on Twitter  for urging people to collectively put $100 million in Atlanta’s only black bank just days before the increase in business.
Executive Vice President Fredrick Daniels said the bank, which was founded in 1921, has survived despite several economic hardships. Now, he said Citizen’s Trust is looking to grow and get more black people to keep their money in their communities.
“Citizen’s Trust provides a financial foundation for our community and that really helps us to put in place the businesses that we wanna see that we don’t see in our communities,” Daniels told 11 Alive.
With $328.8 million in deposits as of the end of 2015, Bailey said Citizen’s Trust’s goal is to make history by becoming the first black-owned billion dollar bank in the country. Bailey noted that while protesting racial inequality is important, a perhaps more noticeable change comes when black people invest back into their communities.
“I’ve been telling people that it’s time to come home,” he said. “Rallies are great and they’re necessary. Protesting is great and it’s necessary but what will sustain and grow from here is our dollar and galvanizing our dollar.”
The United States had 23 black-owned banks, credit unions or savings and loan associations as of March 31, according to the Federal Reserve.

SCLC Names International Headquarters after President Charles Steele, Jr.

By George E. Curry
Charles Steele Jr.


ATLANTA – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Atlanta-based civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has named its international headquarters at 320 Auburn Avenue, N.E. in honor of Charles Steele, Jr., its current president and CEO.
Steele, a former Alabama state senator from Tuscaloosa, AL served from 2004-2009 as its sixth president since the founding of SCLC in 1957. When he assumed office, the organization could not pay its utility bills and was nearly $2 million in debt.
Fred Shuttlesworth, the leader of the Birmingham, Ala. civil rights struggle and a former SCLC president, had written off his organization as dead, saying: “Only God can give life to the dead.”
When he took over, a confident Charles Steele answered that criticism directly, saying, “Well, I talked with God as well and he said he was not coming, but he sent me.”
And the record appears to support his godly assertion.
Steele said within three years, he had raised approximately $20 million – half in cash and the other half through in-kind contributions.
Having accomplished his primary mission, Steele decided to return to his life as a businessman in 2009. But his “retirement” would be short-lived.
In 2014, Steele was asked by the board of directors to give up his full-time private consulting business to return as president to an organization again on the verge of financial collapse.”Dr. Steele has returned as president because of a very important need at this point which is fundraising and fund development. That’s a primary responsibility of the president, and he has excellent skills and contacts in that arena to help us maintain our financial stability,” Board Chairman Bernard LaFayette, Jr. said at the time.
After Steele’s 5-year stint, SCLC went through a series of leadership changes. The charismatic president and fundraiser was succeeded by Rev. Howard W. Creecy, Jr., who served from 2009-2011, when he died accidently while still in office. Issac Farris Jr., a nephew of Dr. King, was dismissed in 2012 after serving less than a year as president. He was followed by civil rights icon Rev. C.T. Vivian, who agreed to serve on an interim basis until SCLC could select a new president.
For stability, SCLC turned again to a reliable face.
Steele, the only person who has ever served twice as president of the storied civil rights group, has been widely recognized for raising most of the $3.5 million to erect the 2-story building on Auburn Avenue and providing the leadership to resurrect the troubled organization.
The building, which opened in 2007, carries the official name: “SCLC International H.Q. – Charles Steele, Jr. Bldg.” A marker is prominently displayed above the front entrance of the building.
“Here is a president who, for the first time, made it possible for SCLC to own its own headquarters,” said LaFayette, the SCLC board chairman. “This is not just a building, it’s an international headquarters named to emphasize our international thrust.”
Steele said he was deeply touched by the decision to name the building in his honor.
“I could go on forever without the personal recognition,” he said in an interview. “But to put my name on the building gives respect to all of the people who supported me, especially my family. It’s a blessing from God and the expression of gratitude says that my work has not been in vain.”