By Kari Canty
More than 700 students and chaperones from across South King County attended the 2015 Black and Brown Male Summit on Nov. 14 at Highline College.
What started in 2011 with about three dozen young men of color has quickly grown to hundreds attending the free day-long event.
The Black and Brown Summit is geared toward middle and high school students who are undecided about attending college. It is one of the few events of its kind in the nation and the only such event in Western Washington.
Rashad Norris, Highline College’s Director of Community Engagement, said it is a powerful experience for young men of color to see 700 others just like them gathered in the same space. He said these young men need to feel empowered in order to take control of their lives.
“It’s not that they’re victims, but they’re invisible,” said Norris, who was one of the people instrumental in bringing the summit to Highline and who works with a committee to put on the event each year.
The 2015 summit was held on Highline’s main campus. Sponsors included the Rotary Club of Federal Way, United Way of King County, Highline College Foundation and Highline College Office of the President.
During the day-long summit, attendees chose from more than a dozen workshops, participated in a leadership activity and enjoyed free breakfast and lunch.
Michael Tuncap gave the keynote address. Born in Guam and raised in Tacoma, Tuncap is working on his Ph.D. and serves as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at Green River College in Auburn.
“People always ask me about bringing in a big-name presenter,” said Norris. “I tell them that I bring in the big names from our local community, the local men of color who are leading and doing great things. That way, when these kids go out to the grocery store or wherever they are, they will see these men who own their own businesses and work at the local colleges and are leaders and mentors right here. These are the local stars who want to help the young men of color succeed.”
Highline College serves the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the state, which is reflected in its student body that includes nearly 70 percent students of color.
Supporting and addressing challenges facing men of color is one goal of the Black and Brown Summit. (end)