Black Male Summit Celebrates 10th Anniversary

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By Julian Curet, Contributor

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Black Male Summit. The two-day event will be held on Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30 at the John S. Knight Center and the Student Union at The University of Akron.

As described on the BMS University website,, participants will be broken up into two groups, the general conference track and the BMS academy and high school track. The two tracks will focus on more successful practices to move African American students through the education system with the purpose of graduating from higher education.

The general conference track will be taking a look at achievements within the community of African American students. Through speakers and small groups, BMS will provide attendees with training and tools that can be implemented by educators and other leaders with the purpose of tackling known issues and strengthening those achievements. The BMS academy and high school track addresses the student perspective.

Middle school and high school students will take part in the same format of speakers and breakout groups. The programming will focus on ways to ensure success in today’s academic environment. Fortifying the skills needed to navigate the waters of the education system is important for students and educators, alike, who are faced with the challenges plaguing all minorities.

An Aug. 24, 2017 New York Times article,, outlined the number of white, Asian, black, and Hispanic freshmen students attending universities relative to their respective shares of the U.S. population. Statistics collected by the New York Times indicate that affirmative action has not been the devastating white suppressant that detractors claim it to be. The gap between freshman students and college age students has increased since 1980 among the black and Hispanic populations. In 2015, black students made up 15% of college-age Americans but only 6% of freshmen.

Landmark affirmative action cases found on, such as Grutter v. Bollinger and Fisher v. University of Texas, argue that white student applicants are being rejected in favor of minority applicants with similar credentials. However, as shown by the New York Times article, selections methods like affirmative action have not had much of an impact and African Americans remain severely underrepresented.

The BMS website states that this year’s agenda is “to discuss how to build better pathways to how we recruit, retain and graduate African American Males in higher education” The speakers listed on the website for Black Male Summit 2017 will be addressing this agenda.

Actor Hill Harper is one of a handful of guests slated to speak at BMS. His recent accomplishments include roles on the television series “The Good Doctor” and “Homeland.” Harper also holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School and a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Those are only a few of his accomplishments.

Dr. Charles Modlin from the Cleveland Clinic is also speaking. Dr. Modlin, a kidney transplant surgeon, is listed on the BMS website as “one of fewer than 20 African American transplant surgeons in the U.S.” The list of successful and experienced guest speakers, like Harper and Dr. Modlin, should draw many participants locally and nationally.

In April 2016, Marilyn Miller, writer for, reported that almost 2,000 people were in attendance for BMS. Eighteen states were represented by students and educators who came to listen to speakers, such as PBS talk show host, Tavis Smiley. That year’s program centered on economic and race issues.

BMS is part of programming offered by the Office of Inclusion and Equity at the University of Akron.

The department’s website states that the goal “is to increase the impact of UA’s inclusive excellence commitment, leading to wider understanding and greater success for all students.” The Office includes the Office of Accessibility, the Confucius Institute, and other departments. Services are also offered, like Hispanic and LGBTU outreach and engagement.

Although registration for this year’s Black Male Summit is closed, those interested can visit for up-to-date information on upcoming events. Be sure to read ZipMail, as well, for any information concerning BMS or events pertaining to campus diversity and inclusion.