Showing success through 300 photos of men of color

A man of color with the phrase "Men of color can achieve success" behind him

Maia Morgan | Washtenaw Voice

By Chanel Stitt
Staff Writer

An event being held May 10, encourages participants to join them for one hour in the Morris Lawrence building.

The goal of the upcoming photo event is to collect 300 men of color to participate in photos that will be hung around schools and organizations in Washtenaw County.

After May 10, students will be able to see photos depicting male role models of color who have been successful in the county.

The idea first took place at Jackson Community College, where Anthony Williams, from Parkridge Community Center, decided to bring the idea to Washtenaw Community College.

It is important to the men who organized this event that young males of color see that they can be something in their future.

The purpose of these photos is to show young males of color that their success can be beyond what they see in the streets. There are many negative influences but there are more positive ones. Young males just need to be shown that the average person a student comes across could be a very successful person.

The event organizers want kids to see that they can be doctors, government officials, teachers, CEOs and even the president of the United States. There are multiple careers that the photographs hope to show that kids that dream about this can make it happen.

“What we want to do is something we call ‘see the vision, be the vision,’” said Arnett Chisholm, a counselor and former dean of diversity and inclusion at WCC. “It is going to be a poster with any African American male that has completed any degree or trade school.”

Chisholm explained that he wants to see more people come to school and finish.

Growing up, kids are influenced by the things they see and what their surroundings are. Derrick Jackson, director of community engagement for Washtenaw County, experienced seeing success take place in negative ways.

“It was the only thing that I had seen,” said Jackson. He realized that the world had more opportunities than what he believed as a young male.

Kier McLemore, co-owner of Bottles-n-Backpacks Child Development Center in Ypsilanti, had a similar experience growing up in Detroit. Drugs and gang activity was in his environment, but he looked passed that with the help of mentors, later becoming one himself.

“Instead of contributing to the problem, be a part of the solution,” said McLemore.

As soon as the event is finished, the organizers plan to post these pictures in schools, recreation centers and nonprofit organizations that students attend.

“They can see an image that looks exactly like their own. The images will be burned into their minds,” said McLemore.

“We just want people to see that there are people out there in the types of jobs that they aspire to do and hopefully make a positive change in the community,” said Chisholm.

There are currently 115 of the desired 300 men of color confirmed as attending the event. Anyone is welcome to come and participate and it will last from 1-2 p.m. on May 10 at the Morris Lawrence Building.

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