The February 2012 death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford Fl. wasn’t the first incident of its kind, nor the first time a shooter would be exonerated for shooting an unarmed black male.
But it set of a media hailstorm of coverage, gave birth to the hashtag #blacklivesmatter and the Million Hoodies movement, and illuminated a trend that seemed to grow as the years flew by. Kimani Gray was killed in March of next year; in September, Charlotte police killed Jonathan Ferrell when he sought their assistance; July marked the choking death of Eric Garner in New York, August, the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and in November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a rookie Cleveland officer.
If coverage is accurate, the color of police brutality is black, brown, and beige. Black males are doomed: stalked and targeted by police, fatherless by design, destined to become criminals, rather than lawyers, shooting victims, rather than surgeons, lifelong lesson learners, yet rarely teachers.
The May 28th Made for More Youth Summit rebuked that outlook.
The birth of positive movement
Made for More became an official organization on March 13, but cofounders Jacqueline Allen and Bridget Adams, both educators, had talked about the idea of starting a non-profit for much longer.
“As educators, we’ve seen so many kids who have extraordinary potential,” said Adams, who gave birth to the Made for More name when she sponsored a team at the annual Youth Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Project conference.
“One of the teams was called made for more,” Adams explained. “Our mission was to show youth that they are made for more than drugs made for more than alcohol, that they’re made for more than that.”
The idea blossomed when she and Allen recognized the need for a group that students could rely upon to show them how to maneuver through the maze of life’s choices with ample resources and support in place, but the idea had remained just that until they attended a conference at which one preacher’s message hit a chord.
“She kept saying, ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow…You have the opportunity to do something right now, but you keep saying tomorrow,’” recalled Adams. “On the way back, we talked for like 8 hours about what we needed to do and where we would start.”
From there, history has been in the making.
Made for More
Under the Made for More umbrella, the founders piloted a program for young black males called the Movement Empowerment Program, which began with 40 selected members. Then came the Youth Action Team, a group comprised of various students and graduates who willingly spearheaded organization of the recent Youth Summit.
Though the pilot program was for men of color, Adams explained that Made for More is all-inclusive.
“We’re all about empowering young people by giving experiences and opportunities to help them discover their own greatness,” she said. “We’re not interested in categorizing.” She added that even those who may not have started off on the best path are invited to join.
“I don’t care if you have a 1.7 or a 3.8,” said Adams. “The potential is there.”
Though the entire process has not been without its pitfalls—Adams categorizes the group into active and inactive members, though she states that the inactive members are still part of the program and can be involved at any time—Adams and Allen have created a movement for males that, in only their first year, has resulted in over $800,000 in scholarships, hosted several Community Town halls featuring local police, politicians, and educators, and, in the less than one year of its existence, armed a group of males at Warwick High with something many didn’t know they had: options.
Adams said that membership in Made for more is not without work and sweat. But the benefit is clear:
When you move, we all move.
Just like that.