100 Black Men of Long Beach aims to empower youth

For more than a decade, the 100 Black Men of Long Beach has supported local youth through mentoring, education, economic opportunities and leadership.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- "What they see is what they'll be," is the motto that the 100 Black Men of Long Beach uses to empower youth in the community.

"A lot of times, the problem with African American boys is the image that other people have of our boys," said Long Beach chapter President, Dr. Lance Robert. "What we do is focus on the boys to build them up, give them strategies and strength."

The 100 Black Men of America was founded in New York City in 1963 when a group of African American men wanted to improve conditions and the quality of life in their community. The Long Beach chapter was established in 2008.

"The mission of the 100 Black Men of Long Beach Incorporated is to improve the quality of life within our local communities through education, health and wellness, economic opportunities, and the provision of leadership and mentoring," said Robert.

The nonprofit is comprised of local professionals, ranging from lawyers to business owners to elected officials, and young men between the ages of 8 to 18.

"Our flagship program is mentoring," Robert said. "We are professional men who want to make generational, sustainable deposits of goodness and change in our young people and to help them reach their full potential."

When it comes to conversations about race and social injustice, Dr. Robert said this is nothing new for "The 100."

"We always talk about social justice with our young men," he said. "We've had dialogue with the police. We've had to show our young men how to interact with policemen. We have lawyers in our group as well. We do like moot court with the boys to teach them their rights."

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the group would meet once a month at Cal State Long Beach for mentoring sessions. Every summer, the young men would attend the UCLA African American Intensive Literacy Program.

"They really give you the tools as a Black man that are useful," said Ammons "AJ" Smith, a mentee who spent over a decade with organization.

Smith is an aspiring attorney and will be attending Howard University in the fall. The Wilson High School graduate will be receiving a scholarship from the 100 Black Men of Long Beach.

"Our boys are powerful," said Dr. Robert. "Our boys can do anything anyone else can do."

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