To build community across campuses, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota students attended the sixth annual  Kente Summit Nov. 4-5 at Macalester College and Hamline University.

The mission of  the Kente Summit is to gather male college students of African descent who attend Minnesota Colleges and Universities to discuss identities, experiences, and commonly faced issues.“Getting the opportunity to connect and reconnect with my fellow Saint Mary’s brethren was definitely a great experience,” said Aldontae Guess, sophomore Saint Mary’s First Generation  (FG) Scholar.

William Jelani Cobb, a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and a contributor to the New Yorker, gave the annual El-Kati lecture. In addition, Cobb gave a speech titled “Half Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today.” Cobb’s speech examined the background of racial history in the United States. “I had the chance to listen to keynote speakers like Jelani Cobb, who spoke about his book and we had a Q&A with him that was very exciting to participate in,” Guess Said.

Another keynote speaker was Jason Sole, a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University and the chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee of the Minneapolis National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  Sole is traveling the country discussing his memoir, From Prison to Ph.D.: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chances. “My experience was marvelous! I got the chance to be around a supportive group of black men. One of my favorite keynote speakers was Jason Sole because his story was one that I could relate to,” said Chazz Robinson, a  Saint Mary’s psychology major. “Cobb told us to get out there and vote because not many young people in the African-American community go out to the polls and vote. I feel it is important for us collegiate black men to have our voices heard.”

The Kente summit inspired Saint Mary’s students to speak at the summit in the future.  Morris Dennis, a criminal justice major, said, “This is my second year attending the Kente Summit.  Listening to Jelani Cobb was a good experience. He was very inspiring with the information  he gave.” Dennis said he would love to one day be a keynote speaker at the Kente Summit because he feels  he has a unique story to share and it would be a great opportunity to give back in some way to future students of color. “I was there in a capacity to support students in the summit. I was using the summit to create a better community and using the experience to urge the students to bring something positive to the Saint Mary’s campus,” said Tiyawn Walker, graduate hall director. “The bigger piece that I took away was creating spaces for fostering community.”

In remembrance of the summit and what it stands for, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed Friday, Nov. 4, as Black Collegiate Men Day in the city of St. Paul.

The official proclamation states:

Whereas, the first Black graduates of Minnesota’s colleges and universities helped pave the way for Black men to benefit from educational opportunities today; and

Whereas, many Black men from Minnesota’s colleges and universities were and are part of the City of Saint Paul’s strong path of progression; and

Whereas, today, the 6th Annual Kente Summit brings together male college students of African descent who attend colleges and universities in the state of Minnesota in order to build communities across campuses, identities, experiences, and commonly faced issues; and

Whereas, the Summit will take place in Saint Paul on November 4, 2016, and will include featured speakers, discussions, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities for Black men attending Minnesota’s colleges and universities,

Now, Therefore, I, Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor of the City of Saint Paul, do hereby proclaim Friday, November 4, 2016 to be:

Black Collegiate Men Day in the city of Saint Paul.

“It was simply amazing hearing this proclamation  because it shows people care about everyone receiving educational opportunities and that we have attended a wonderful event to learn and grow with one another.” Guess said.

Saint Mary’s students and staff who attended the Kente Summit were Arshad Williams, Morris Dennis, Stanley Wright, Jonathan Payne, Chazz Robinson, Aldontae Guess, Omar Diongue, Demetrius Young, Daniel Olajonlu, Michael Nome, Alex Redd, and Tiyawn Walker.