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100 Black Men becoming hometown heroes

Stanley O. Williford | 10/12/2011, 5 p.m.

"My story was kind of unique because I went to a college-prep school where there were very few Blacks, but the expectation was that everybody goes to college," she said. "The assumption would be that we didn't have any barriers, but because of the racial dynamics at the school, we actually did.

"For example, a lot of students of color were discouraged from applying to prestigious four-year universities, despite the fact that we were in the right courses to apply and had the right GPAs. We met the requirements.

"In my senior year, my college counselor discouraged me from applying to all my college options and tried to persuade me to explore other options aside from the choices I had in mind," said Brewer-Boyd. "My experience was not unique."

However, through the encouragement of mentors from Young Black Scholars, Brewer-Boyd said, "I got into every school I applied to." She graduated from UCLA in 1994, and went on to get a master's in political science from California State University Dominguez Hills, and is now in the process of applying to study for a doctorate.

Qiana Conley, a 1999 graduate of USC with a bachelor's in business administration, is presently developing a music, brands and lifestyle company called Cue Creative. She has an extensive background in the music field, and has worked on the albums and campaigns of such superstars as Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez.

The stories of success go on, but 100 Black Men was not only established to assist in the field of education and mentoring but in health and wellness and economic development, according to Jewett L. Walker Jr., president and chairman of the board.

Walker, the organization's 12th president, is somewhat of an anomaly. He is a political consultant who has worked on the campaigns of such notable local politicians as Mervyn Dymally, Bernard Parks, Marguerite LaMotte, Rocky Delgadillo, Roosevelt Dorn and others. However, he also holds a master of divinity degree and is an associate minister at True Vine Baptist Church in Inglewood, where he is in charge of church administration.

Although 100 Black Men of Los Angeles Inc. was formed in 1981, the national organization began its formative period in New York in 1963 with such notable leaders as David Dinkins, Robert Mangum, Dr. William Hayling, Nathaniel Goldston III, Livingston Wingate, Andrew Hatcher, and Jackie Robinson.

Hayling relocated to Newark, New Jersey, and "sought to replicate the 100's impact in that area." In 1976, he formed the 100 Black Men of New Jersey. "A movement had been born," says the organization's website. "Men across the country began to form 100 Black Men organizations to leverage their collective talents and resources. Chapters were formed in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, Nassau/Suffolk, Alton, and Sacramento."

Hayling later became the first president of the Los Angeles chapter. Attorney Donald Lancaster was the last, just before Walker. Our Weekly Columnist Anthony Asadullah Samad has also served as president.

"The goal was to identify 100 men to help our community, and so they found professional Blacks in all different careers to help to meet the needs of our community," said Walker. "What we wanted were people in different areas of expertise--architects, engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and so forth.

"The idea was that we could share our expertise not only with young people, but it would help the organization be better," he said. "If we wanted to do something in a particular area, people in that are could take the lead."

There was another important aspect, according to Walker, which was "to bring men from various educational backgrounds together to help solve some of the problems in our community. We wanted to deal with professional men who had some economics behind them."

Those who have benefited from 100 Black Men programs have glommed onto the idea of paying their success forward, to give back what they have learned from the organization.