By Matthew Martin
I had a great time interviewing Lloyd Grant who gave me information on the group 100 Black Men.
100 Black Men got started in 1963, when it was known as 100 men. It began as a support network due to the racist actions of the government and others.
Some of the groups founders were Bob Magnum, David Dinkins, Charles Rangel, and Livingston Wingate.
Excerpts from The Interview: With Lloyd Grant and Ron Guy.
MM: How did 100 Black Men get started.
LG: About 33 years ago, there was a gentleman, who was the highest ranking black police officer at the time. An incident happened in his precinct where a woman, well know and respected in the community, had been arrested because she questioned something a police officer was doing. At that time an inspector had the discretion whether or not to press charges against someone. When the high ranking officer was notified that this woman was there at his precinct, he went down and let it be known that this was a respected person in the community, and that there was no particular reason to hold them, it was a misunderstanding and a miscommunication...
Then the whole power structure within the department and in the press came down on him. ... He was getting a lot of strife...
So he met with some of his peers to discuss what he was experiencing.... They realized they needed to come up with a support mechanism for each other and the community to deal with situations like this. ...
Judges, business owners, police officers, polititians came up with idea and formed a group.. first called 100 Men... later changed ... to 100 black men to be more reflective of who we are ... We felt, yes we are black men ... and proud to have that moniker.
... [The Group] was a response to a lot of pressure and heat put on members of our community.
There are now 64 chapters, nationwide over 7,000 members, in all walks of life: Politicians, officers, educators, business owners, entertainers ... David Dinkins ...Charlie Rangel ...Danny Glover ... Johnny Cochran ...Bill Cosby ... the late Ron Brown ... a whole host of folks who are well know and including those not so well know but who are influential in the organization.
MM: What are some of the accomplishments of 100 Black Men?
LG: We provide a support group to network with each other and we also have a ... focused mission and initiatives to help the black community. Chief among those is our mentoring program which we use to mentor with black youth, we have a scholarship program which we've been doing for over 18 years, where we give four year scholarships to the best and the brightest blacks throughout the Public City School System. We have an SAT prep program where each year we pay for 100 kids to be in an SAT prep program ...to help them get a leg up going into college. . We have something called a Saturday Institute which is a program with the design ... knowing that and understanding that not everyone is going to go the college track. There are going to be those and there should be those that choose to become business owners, entrepreneurs... So the Saturday Inst. is designed to expose them to the concept of entrepreneurship as a career option and to help develop critical thinking skills in the You. ...It is a 24 week program... in it's second year.
MM: Who are the main people started 100 Black Men?
LG: Bob Magnum, our first president...David Dinkins ...Charlie Rangel ... the late Livingston Wingate.[one of the founders of 100 black men and the annual African Day Parade.] ...There are a lot of prominent people who were involved in the formation of this organization.
MM: What schools are you involved with?
LG: We have adopted Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, which was targeted ...at one time on the governor's hit list to be closed down as one of the worst schools in New York State. ...Through our connections and our efforts we were able to give them ... a state of the art computer lab, ... one of the best computer labs in New York State.
MM: What are some of your other accomplishments?
LG: Our scholarship program which we've given over 75 scholarships over the past 17 years. In the mentoring program, we
MM: What are future plans of 100 Black Men:
... We would like to expand the Saturday institute which currently meets at two sites, Roosevelt High School and Church of the Master here in Harlem ...We've developed a ... complete program and format ... we hope interested persons in other areas could take to their church, community center or school and set up the .. our goal is to have a Saturday institute in all five boroughs and ... beyond.
MM: What have been your chief obsticles:
Ron Guy: The original scope of the organization was very internalized and very professionally based. It had a lot of members in the corporate world. What we're trying to do now is to expand that membership to reach all sectors of the community, those that work in the profit as well as the non profit. Otherwise an organization gets very stagnate if it only focuses on one part or one segment of the community. I'd also like to add one of the new initiatives coming out of our committee is to provide affordable housing for low income families. We have some programs now pending before the community boards that I think will take us in a much broader direction and reach a whole lot of other constituencies that we hadn't touched on before.
MM: How does one join your organization?
LG: To become a member, ... one submits an application and bio and ... there is an interview process to discuss ideals and philosophies. ...We have republicans as well as democrats, folks who are against politics ... we have a broad spectrum.. ... we [seek] someone willing to network and contribute something to the community and members are encouraged to actively participate on at least one committee.
MM: How would a youth contact the organization to seek assistance in one of your programs?
LG: They could call our offices at 777-7070... ask for information... We're in the process of developing fact sheets that describe the many programs and initiatives.