08-16-2018  11:06 am      •     
Jessica Harper Special to the NNPA from the Washington Informer
Published: 27 August 2010

(NNPA) - A 2009 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Black teens and young adults are more prone to violence than their White counterparts. Despite that alarming fact, mentoring and counseling groups like the District-based Evolutionary Elders  continue to inspire African-American youth to excel personally and professionally.
Co-founder and author, Eugene Williams, Sr., said the organization fights the odds, by maintaining a positive outlook about the future of Black youth.
"We don't want to be bothered with defeatist attitudes," Williams, 68, said.
"Our goal is to work with mentors, counselors and organizations who have not given up on our children," the Clinton, Md., resident said.
Evolutionary Elders seeks to heal social ills that plague African-American young men and women by bridging generational gaps. Members close these gaps by using education and positive reinforcement to reach Black youth.
"We came together to forge this concept--soon-to-become-movement--because we were really upset at some of the things we saw in families and also in schools," Williams said.
Williams established Evolutionary Elders in spring 2010 with his long-time friend Wetzel Witten, a 67-year-old community organizer from Washington, D.C.
The two men bring together men and women, who were born in the 1930s and 1940s, grew up in the 1950s and became social revolutionaries in the 1960s to mentor and counsel young people and their families. These elders forfeit vacations in Miami to "liberate and elevate the thinking and actions" of Black youth.
"We are an African people, and Negritude represents our attitude," Witten said. "Therefore, we will never be senior citizens because senior citizens retire, Evolutionary Elders inspire."
Members inspire by venturing into schools, recreation centers and churches across the D.C. area with a two-pronged mission: to work with parents, guardians and educators to improve education (academics and athletics) and to teach Black youth about their history and respect for their elders.
"Whether anybody accepts it or not, our schools and families are in crisis and our children are caught up in this," Williams said.
"As we see it, if something is not done soon, we will see our schools dissolve and become worse off than they are now."
Now 10 members strong, counselors include an eclectic mix of Ph.D. holders and activists; mathematicians and wordsmiths; athletes and musicians--each of whom share their knowledge with young mentees.
Mary H. Johnson, a member of Evolutionary Elders, said psychological counseling warrants as much attention as academic tutoring.
"The highest compliment I have received since I began working with EE came from a student who was asked, 'Why do you go to the math center so often?' Do you know what he said in response to that? 'Because Dr. Johnson makes me feel like I'm somebody,'" Johnson said.
Johnson holds an Ed.D. in Mathematics Education from University of Maryland College Park and is married to Williams. The two founded Academic Resources Unlimited (ARU) in 2008. ARU is a non-profit that provides tutorial and communication services to high school students and educators.
Johnson said because many of the organization's mentees receive little encouragement at home, it is incumbent on the mentors to remind them of their worth.
"Our children fight so hard to feel accepted," Johnson said. "Sometimes all it takes is for them to meet someone who says, 'You can do it!'"
Ed Brown, creator of YouTube's social commentary program The Ed Brown Show, echoed Johnson's sentiment.
"Environment affects development," Brown said. "Some of these kids have no one who cares whether or not they succeed."
Brown's program covers topics ranging from politics to education, and featured guests include university presidents and local lawmakers.
He said the elders' experience is their greatest asset.
"A child might pay more attention to someone who is much older," Brown said. "An elder brings knowledge that other people don't have. So when an elder says, 'Study hard,' they listen."\\
Williams and Witten said several students have changed their behavior since coming under their tutelage.
"We mentored a 15-year-old boy, a very smart kid, who sold drugs. He told me, 'I never thought about the consequences.' So, I decided to give him a job designing our books," Williams said. "Now, he tells me he's staying out of trouble. On top of that, the work he produces for us is outstanding."
Evolutionary Elders collaborates with non-profit group Wise Educators.com and the Success and Learning Math Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., to provide quality tutoring and counseling services to their mentees.
Williams said, "We don't want volunteers looking to benefit from the name, Evolutionary Elders. They must have a history of doing good things and want to continue to do that work."

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news"Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on "fake news" Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press.The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.They did across the breadth of the country.The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy's need for a free press."The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists "the truest of patriots." The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, "but we're not holding our breath.""Rather, we hope all the president's supporters will recognize what he's doing —  manipulating reality to get what he wants," the North Carolina newspaper said.On Thursday morning, Trump again took to Twitter to denounce "fake news."He wrote: "The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!"THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018  That followed this tweet from the president: "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!"The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people."Like any true friend, we don't always tell you want you want to hear," the Morning News said. "Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness."Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.The New York Times added a pitch."If you haven't already, please subscribe to your local papers," said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country."Praise them when you think they've done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We're all in this together."That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren't joining the Globe's effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context."Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media," Finley wrote. "He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted."The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable."I want to make sure that it is positive," said Dan Shelley, the group's executive director. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters."It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump's election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.
    Read More
  • The world mourns the death of Aretha Franklin who died today at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
    Read More
  • Omarosa viewed as "two-bit opportunist" for calling Trump a racist only after aligning herself with him 
    Read More
  • Seven ships filled with 176,000 tons of wheat have left Portland for Yemen
    Read More
  • It was a rare admission of fault for an administration that frequently skews data and overstates economic gains.
    Read More
  • PP&R activities scheduled outdoors are being moved indoors where feasible
    Read More
  • Trump tweeted a barrage of insults Tuesday morning as Manigault Newman continued promoting her White House tell-all
    Read More
  • Aretha Frankin, considered one of the greatest singers of all time, has fallen ill
    Read More
Oregon Convention Center Job Fair
Port of Seattle Tours
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Montavilla Jazzfest 2018
The Skanner Report