Gene Robertson is an occasional guest columnist for the Missourian and a former member of the Missourian's Readers Board. He is a community development professor emeritus at MU.
Black males continue to give back to the Columbia community. Little notice is being given to them while all attention is given to any negative occurrences, which builds on negative stereotypes of the black male.
Saturday morning, a host of black males led by the Minority Men’s Network and including the MMBI descended on the inner city of Columbia as a part of Cleanup Columbia program. Columbians driving on Garth waved, honked their horns and yelled "Thank You" to the men who had been engaged in this program for nearly 12 years. These groups run the Nora Stewart reading program, give scholarships to deserving college-bound students and assist other programs i.e. Almeta Crayton programs.
These are not the only Black male contributions in the city. The Royal Deuces have been assisting Columbians with their breakfasts, New Years Eve dances and donations for over 40 years. The First Ward Ambassadors provide boots on the ground assisting Columbians in Douglass Park and the surrounding area. They assist John and Rod Kelly in their baseball program.
Individuals such as John Turner and JT's barbershop quietly lend a hand when they are called upon. These groups were instrumental in developing the citizens review process. Dr. Ellis Ingram has conducted youth medical education program out of his own pocket for nearly a decade. Columbia Park planning process was enhanced through the participation of black males. Black males from these groups assisted the Columbia School cafe planning process.
While many believe new MU faculty and staff have been negligent in contributing their expertise to the black community, many older faculty have made contributions. St. Luke’s Methodist Church stands out for its males contributing to efforts in the community. The opportunity exists for many more Black males to assist in enhancing Columbia and the Black community. All of the Black male organizations would welcome more help.