Sabrina Madison wants nothing to do with organizing the next Black Excellence Youth Conference. She wants the students to totally own it, instead, reports Madison.com. “It’s about leadership,” Madison said. “I just want to give them the skeleton and let them go. I want them to understand that they have the power to create.” Madison and JoAnne Brown, the multicultural resource coordinator at Memorial High School, hosted the first annual Black Excellence Youth Conference at the Best Western Plus InnTowner in Madison. More than 75 Black high school students from Madison, Verona, Sun Prairie and Sauk City attended the event. The daylong conference centered on helping students plan for the future, with panels about college access, entrepreneurship and financial planning. All speakers were African-American community members. “It was inspiring to see all these Black children and adults in a room together to talk about how we can be excellent,” said TeJah Travis, 15, a sophomore at Verona Area High School. “It’s great to be around adults who think we can be amazing and smart.” Everett Mitchell, pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Church and a Dane County Circuit Court judge, gave the opening keynote address. He talked about charting his own path, despite other people’s stereotypes about his identity. “The moment you don’t know who you are, you are put on a path set for you,” Mitchell said, recounting growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas, and struggling to read by the time he graduated from high school. Mitchell said he was contacted by a recruiter and enrolled at a small college in Texas where he found two Black women on the faculty who helped him improve his reading skills. He later transferred to Morehouse College, a historically Black college in Atlanta. “You don’t have to be perfect, you have to get what you need to lead,” Mitchell said.