White House to Launch Education Summit for Black Students At Morehouse College

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 02/14/2014 | 10:15 AM EST

The White House seeks to address the challenges men of color face in higher education

President Barack Obama is on a mission to tackle the dire strains that plague young African-American students on the college level.

Through The White House Initiative On Educational Excellence for African-Americans, the president is hoping that his newly announced White House summits to be hosted on a host of college campuses around the country will begin to shift the challenges that currently face young students of color.

The first summit will be held at Morehouse College, the country’s only historically Black, all-male college that produced graduates such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Morehouse President John S. Wilson emphasizes the unique challenges among Black men, who graduate at lower rates than women and less likely to enroll in college.

“The crisis affecting African-American males is quite acute and there is no other subgroup in the American educational pipeline that is as challenged as the African-American male. So, it makes sense to team up with Morehouse with that kind of focus,” Wilson said in an interview.

“We are the only institution of higher education that’s essentially devoted to the African-American male,” he added. “And we’re on the way to becoming an epicenter – really the epicenter – for ideas to develop best practices on those educational conventions. It makes sense for us to be the place where the White House looks to partner.”

Wilson, the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, says the idea of hosting college summits were discussed during his tenure.

President Obama was the commencement speaker at Morehouse in May 2013, where he hinted at the difficulties for Black men on a national scale.

“Your generation is uniquely poised for success unlike any generation of African Americans that came before it,” Obama said during his speech. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t have work — because if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that too few of our brothers have the opportunities that you’ve had here at Morehouse.”

The summits are scheduled to take place at Jackson State University and at Laney College in Oakland, California. They will highlight leaders in educational excellence for African Americans and also create opportunities for parents, grandparents and guardians to help increase the number of African-Americans who are prepared when they graduate from high school.

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