If you or someone you know has been blessed to be one of the more than 18,000 youths who have been helped by the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles’ Young Black Scholars (YSB) program over the past years, you understand the importance of the organization’s 30th anniversary gala on Oct. 21.

The event is being held at the J.W. Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. Live downtown. Among the honorees include Laker great Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Man of the Year), Northrop Grumman executive Sandra Evers-Manly (Woman of the Year), entrepreneur-entertainer Marla Gibbs (Lifetime Achievement Award), UCLA basketball great Walter Hazzard (Lifetime Achievement Award), entrepreneur Fred A. Calloway (Special Achievement Award), Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby (Special Achievement Award) and AEG executive vice president Kevin McDowell (Community Partner Award).

The affair will be hosted by Chris Schauble, KTLA morning news co-anchor, and 10-time Grammy award winner Chaka Khan will provide special entertainment.

It is at such galas that 100 Black Men raise funds to carry on their community programs like Young Black Scholars. Typical YBS success stories include the following:

Clifton Dorsey, who began being mentored through YBS in 1996 during his freshman year in high school, said his experience with 100 Black Men mentorship programs was “invaluable, as it gave me an opportunity to see things that until that time I had never seen before: Black men and women in business suits that were well-spoken, ambitious and professional. These images increased my self-worth, and through participating in events like the YBS Super Quiz, I gained a more profound sense of my cultural heritage.”

Dorsey is a professor of political science and American government at Westwood College and is also a third-year law student at Southwestern Law School. He holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in political science from California State University, Long Beach. He participated in the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute at Duke University in 2003 and is a member of both the National Political Science Honor Society and the National Black Law Student Association.

“Words cannot express the level of gratitude and thanks I owe to the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles,” said Dorsey. “This distinguished organization played an integral part in my life at a pivotal time.”

Another “alumnus” of the organization’s Young Black Scholars program extols the mentors and advisers who took the time to care about his academic development.

“As a high school student,” said Henry Delu, “I remember getting up early on the weekends to visit a different college each month. YBS has always created a successful program that added to my academic growth.”

Delu went on to further his education by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in molecular cell biology at UC Berkeley, and a master’s in medical science from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Southern California.

Denette Brewer-Boyd indicated that Young Black Scholars may have contributed to her academic salvation, although she was already enrolled in a prestigious college-prep school

“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.