Black Star Project planning graduation celebration

June 27, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The non-profit is planning a mass Black male graduation ceremony and some of the participants are now on-board as volunteers.

These young men are all marking a milestone. They recently graduated from high school.

"It gives me a good feeling knowing that people could look up to me for my accomplishments and for graduating high school," said graduate Michael Sanson.

They are now working with the Black Star Project to get the word out about a mass graduation specifically for Black and Latino boys who successfully completed high school this year.

"This is an opportunity to not just cheer young men who play basketball, or football, who are dancing or entertaining," said Phillip Jackson, Black Star Project executive director. "This is an opportunity to cheer young black men who are doing what we, what society says they should do. They're getting a good education. They're working hard. They're making plans for the future."

Some graduates hope this event can help change a negative public image as well as encourage other youth.

"Younger black males, the ones that need guidance, even the young drug dealers just to show them there's a way out of the neighborhood," said Farragut Academy Johnnie Jones.

"It sends a great message that they do have an opportunity and you don't have to resort to violence. You do have a chance if you have the support," said Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Markell Sylvain.

So far, more than 400 graduates have registered to participate. Volunteers are canvassing the neighborhoods to recruit even more. The young men say they know this is just one of many accomplishments to come, but they are proud to get public attention for positive activities.

"A lot of young Black men don't get acknowledged for their accomplishments and it shows how you're not forgotten," said Thornwood High School graduate Diquan Collier.

The ceremony takes place this Saturday at Chicago State University. Rapper Lupe Fiasco is the keynote speaker.

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