BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Nine young men were presented to society alongside their parents at the 16th biennial Beautillion of the Buffalo chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Young black men have a rights of passage ceremony after spending 6 months in a leadership program.
Hundreds have come through the program to date.
“We teach them how to tie their tie, how to date a girl, the kind of food they should be eating, and their careers,” said Dr. Catherine Collins who brought the event to Buffalo in 1983.
“It was like what is happening now: the death rate was high, our young men weren’t going to college, they were dropping out of school, they were doing all kinds of things. [We wanted] a project that would incorporate them Ito the community and give them a status and help them.”
Former beau Demone Smith went through the same program 20 years ago. He said it is life changing.
“It made a different, it expand my horizon, I saw a bigger picture.”
Today, Smith is the executive director at the Buffalo Employment and Training Center.
Current beau Anthony Jackson explained his feelings before the ceremony: “It’s basically getting accepted into society as young black men.”
The young men were in workshops for months learning about leadership and cultural and civic engagement…even walking away with a new name after an African naming ceremony.
“It feels pretty cool,” said Janair Henderson. “You’re becoming your own person now…you have to lead yourself in the right way now.”
Tonights honorees were: Peyton Barker, Joshua Branch, Janair Henderson, Anthony Jackson, Jai Robinson, Isaiah Seay, Ulysses Wingo, Jr., Michael Washington, and Jayden Hulett.