Peoria summit seeks better future for African Americans - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Peoria summit seeks better future for African Americans

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

Problems of race in Peoria are nothing new; just look at the infamous 24-7 Wall Street polls.

One group in the river city, The New Millennium Institute, is trying to change that one man - or boy - at a time.

The Central Illinois Male Leadership Summit had a big turnout Saturday.

Organizers said they wanted to help kids and adults create vision and purpose in their lives. One of the boys at the youth session of the summit said it is a good thing for the community. 

"I've never been here before...my first time...but it's really good," stated Dallas Edwards, a Peoria student. 

"This event is designed to examine, to identify some of the issues and challenges that African American males are facing," stated organizer Agbara Bryson. 

Organizers said they wanted to help Peoria become a better place for everyone - no matter the color of their skin - to live. 

"So what we are telling them today is that we love them. We appreciate them. We're going to empower them," said organizer Carl Holloway.

Some topics of discussion included addressing bullying, stopping violence, choices and consequences and job and career readiness.

"To teach our kids, like you can see on my hat, to stop tripping and start living," added Bryson. 

It's part of the Tri-County Diversity Leadership Initiative. At the youth session, organizers wanted to let the kids know they have a purpose. 

"...and with that purpose it does carry value into their lives. A lot of the young people have not identified that they have a purpose on this earth," stated Holloway. 

Students, like Dallas, have the opportunity to be paired up with mentors and organizers of the event and said those relationships are key in the success of children. 

"Without vision and knowledge, people perish, and so what we are attempting to do is help our youth create a vision and give them the knowledge so they can prosper and be a productive citizen," stated Bryson. 

Edwards knows his purpose: "Treat people how you want to be treated in life," he said. 

Overall, Holloway's main message is one of hope and that kids - and adults - can be excellent at whatever you do. 

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