BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke to Dr. Wilson about the crisis that faces young black men and what role HBCUs like Morehouse can fill to change the direction. Here’s what he had to say:It's worth reading the whole interview although it seems relatively short and there are two other published questions that Dr. Wilson was asked. What more do we need to do to keep our young men out of jail and keep them in school?
When you speak of the cradle-to-prison pipeline, what are some of the things that can be done?
The first thing we have to do is recognize that it’s a very serious issue—some would call it a crisis—and something needs to be done. You may think that goes without saying but it’s not. There’s a numbness that people in this country—black and white and around the world—have to what’s going on with the African American male. If other groups had the kind of educational data profile that the African American male has, it would be nothing short of a crisis. But for some reason, too many people find it tolerable or natural in some way.
So, I think recognizing that it is a critical issue that goes to the productivity and security of this country is step one. Step two is developing a sense of urgency once you recognize it; and step three is organizing to get better data about it and exchange a best practices designed to do something about the challenge. In the midst of all that, we need what we haven’t had and that’s a shining beacon on the hill—an institution that’s recognized worldwide as the destination of choice for men in general and in particular African American men and that’s Morehouse College.
What can be done on a personal level?
First, I think the steps that I outlined are relevant for individuals as well as institutions. Number two, parents can address the cycle by ensuring that their sons are exceptions to the general rule. And even if you’re not a parent, there are many organizations that care about this issue and you can align yourself with them and you can become involved— politically and otherwise.
I was very pleased that the President of the United States announced a “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative designed to get at this. I think some people have recognized that. I think the President is making an attempt to sound an alarm that there is a crisis.
While I'm sure Dr. Wilson and others want to see more young men go on to achieve that undergrad degrees, what can we do to ensure our young men will achieve their high school diplomas?