Clemson takes leadership role in closing the ‘achievement gap’ with inaugural Men of Color National Summit
CLEMSON — More than 1,600 college students, government officials, community activists, educators and industry leaders from 24 different states are joining approximately 400 African-American and Hispanic male ninth- through 11th-graders from Greenville, Spartanburg, Pickens and Anderson counties, as well as schools along the Interstate 95 corridor, at the inaugural two-day Men of Color National Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, Thursday and Friday.
The summit presented by Clemson’s Office of Inclusion and Equity is designed to help close the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic males from cradle to career success by emphasizing the importance of education, best practices and choices to increase high school and college graduation rates. Clemson University is launching this major initiative to foster a more inclusive, supportive, and diverse South Carolina.
Keynote speakers include Tavis Smiley, host of the PBS late-night television talk show “Tavis Smiley”; John Quiñones, host of the ABC newsmagazine “What Would You Do?”; Roy Jones, executive director of Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER program; Desmond Howard, ESPN college football analyst; Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; and David J. Johns, former executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will hold a special breakout session during the summit’s second day. Scott grew up in a single-parent household mired in poverty, and was at one point on the verge of flunking out of high school. Despite that, the speaker turned his life around and went on to become the first African-American to be elected to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
The goal of the summit is to attract and retain a highly talented and diverse group of students, faculty and staff at Clemson, and to open educational and career opportunities for young men of color, most of whom will be first-generation college students who often face a challenging path to higher education. Clemson intends to help prepare these students to become college-ready high school graduates, regardless of what institution they choose to attend.
The summit emphasizes two critical messages: “Stay focused” and “Never give up.” During the two-day summit, attendees will hear insights from more than 40 national thought leaders on personal and professional development. Additionally, the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” with 8 million listeners across 105 markets, will broadcast live from the summit on the morning of the opening day.
The 2017 inaugural summit also kicks off Clemson’s “Tiger Alliance” program. Partnering with Greenville County School Superintendent Burke Royster, Anderson District 5 Superintendent Tom Wilson, and schools from the I-95 corridor, Clemson University will mentor the 400-member cohort through a revolving, multi-year initiative. The young men will receive guidance and enrichment opportunities to make them college-ready, and their progress will be tracked from the summit through high school graduation.
“Clemson is committed to creating best practices for inclusive excellence, and the Men of Color National Summit reinforces that commitment by preparing these young men to succeed in college, whether at Clemson or anywhere that fits their goals,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “This summit is just one part of Clemson’s long-term vision to prepare a broader mix of students for college and future career success.”
“The heart of the summit is the young men in the Tiger Alliance,” said Lee Gill, Clemson University’s chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. “The global perspective that a college education provides will not just help them excel in life, but will also contribute to the talent dividend that benefits the state of South Carolina and the nation.”
Dates have already been set for April 12-13, 2018, at the TD Convention Center in Greenville. Speakers already committed for 2018 are Roland Martin, host and managing editor, TV One’s “NewsOne Now”; Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, contributing opinion writer, The New York Times, and contributing editor, The New Republic, and ESPN’s “The Undefeated”; Marc Lamont Hill, distinguished professor of African-American Studies, Morehouse College, journalist, author and activist; Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author; and Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University, and executive director, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. The Tom Joyner Morning Show will also broadcast live from the 2018 summit.
Ranked No. 23 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major land-grant science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit and a competitive drive to excel.