Chicagoan helping to empower college students

March 14, 2014 (CHICAGO)

They come from modest backgrounds throughout the United States and they're classmates now, at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Led by a passionate Corliss High School graduate, Corey A. Hardiman and 14 others partnered with community organizations on various projects and Friday hosted a "Men of Color" empowerment conference dedicated to getting these young men pointed towards college and away from hopelessness.

A lot of black males don't see a public success in neighborhoods such as Roseland, Englewood, but I said we can change that," Hardiman said. "Let's do this, let's deliver hope. My father was a dope dealer, why can't I become a hope dealer, dealing hope in the neighborhoods that need it most."

That mindset permeated seminars on any number of topics, including the college experience, personal finance and conflict resolution.

The Morehouse "Alternative Spring Break" reflects the school's reputation as a force for moral leadership, and that resonates.

"To find a group that is so committed to changing their world at the age that they are, is a sign of what's in the future," Joe Ready, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

The conference finishes with the acknowledgements of progress and the sense that in this South Side gym, change is possible.

"It is making me think about college, it is making me think about what to do in life, it is getting me ready," said student Jaylin Williams.

"The young men of Chicago really need to see hope and we feel that we are that light of hope, as a hope dealer on the South Side of Chicago," Hardiman said.

Beyond the good feelings the Morehouse men intend to connect regularly through social media with as many of their new friends as possible, and most importantly develop formal mentor relationships with at least two high schoolers each.

That would be 30 young men, at least, having motivated, successful African-American scholars intensely looking out for them, helping them make good choices towards college and beyond.

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