Hundreds of young men of color from Chicago Public Schools attend leadership summit

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of CPS high school students came together Friday to get inspired.

They attended the His Leadership Summit for young men of color at Malcolm X College.

"You just got to stay focused and stay hungry if you really want something," said student Randy Davis.

Students learned about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and gentlemen's etiquette.

The speakers included professional athlete and philanthropist Keifer Sykes and Jermaine Lawrence Anderson from I Am A Gentleman, Inc.

"My goal was to just tell them about what it takes to be successful," Sykes said.

Lawrence said too often young people in the city are portrayed negatively.

"We have some of the finest young men in the entire country right here in Chicago," Lawrence said. "But it's our job as leaders to help repaint the narrative and uplift the good things that they're doing in the community."

The summit also featured a mental health panel.

"Finding different ways to cope with the things that we're going through, especially growing up in the city of Chicago, we experience a lot," said organizer McKinley Nelson.

Nelson runs Project Swish Chicago. The foundation uses basketball to combat violence in the city. Nelson knows all too well the toll violence takes on young people.

"I grew up in Auburn Gresham, anything that you know is news to people, it's been my reality," he said. "I've lost over a dozen of my friends to gun violence myself. So that's part of the reason why I started this foundation."

Nelson said he wants to help the youth stay alive and on the right track.

"If it's one kid that we're able to inspire and touch their life, I feel like we're doing our job here," he said.

Jonathan Turner, a CPS student, said he felt inspired.

"You come see people how they have been successful in life, it's inspires me to do better in life," he said.
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