Church hosts forum for black men

CONYERS -- A series of town hall meetings that begin next week in Conyers will explore the disparities facing young black men compared to other racial and gender groups. Organizers hope the forum will offer some answers to these challenges.

The first town hall meeting will be held 7 p.m. Thursday at Springfield Baptist Church, 3001 Old Salem Road. The panel discussion will be moderated by Darryn Moore, a reporter with WSB-TV, and is being organized by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Stone Mountain-Lithonia Alumnae Chapter.

Local panelists scheduled to appear include Roderick Sams, Newton High School principal; Pastor Eric W. Lee of Springfield Baptist Church; Erly Saldano, executive director of the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale Boys and Girls Club; and Oz Nesbitt, Rockdale County commissioner.

Tina Commodore of the local Delta Sigma Theta alumnae chapter explained the Conyers forum is the kickoff of the sorority's efforts to focus on the needs of young black men called EMBODI -- Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence.

"We hope going forward that the young men who participate in this discussion see what an impact their input can have on their lives in particular, and the community at large, if they take the time to participate in the discussions at the forefront, pledging to be a part of the solution," Commodore said in an e-mail.

The forum is being held during a significant time following the election of President Barrack Obama. Essence magazine is addressing the subject in its current issue through short essays by black male celebrities on what effect Obama's election is having on black men in the United States.

Commodore said she hoped the forums will help shed some light on these issues and "provide a lasting positive effect on the young men in our community."

Also participating in Thursday's panel are Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler of the 93rd Georgia House District; Albert Murray, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice; Corey Stayton, president of the Kappa Alpha Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; and Kenneth Walker, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Inc. of DeKalb County and Area 2 director of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Georgia District.

Two other forums are scheduled for other communities in January and February. For more information, call 678-576-3187, or e-mail educationaldevelopment@smlacdst.org.