A project by journalism students in the convergence newsroom at Roosevelt University.

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Saving Our Sons

      There is a crisis in America. It is a crisis of epic proportions, one that threatens the very existence of a people and that centers around the premature deaths of one group of Americans for whom the statistical data paints a grim portrait: Young black men. Among the alarming numbers is a bourgeoning number of homicides, which remains the leading cause of death among young black men ages 15 to 34, something the Centers for Disease Control have designated a national epidemic.
  Coupled with figures that show the rate of new HIV cases among black men growing at an alarming and disproportionate rate to men of other races, and a grim picture of other demographics, black males have for decades now maintained the distinction of being dubbed an “endangered species.”
      Indeed young black men today have killed more young black men historically than the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama recorded 3,446 lynchings of blacks from 1882 to 1968—the toll of 86 years. But the toll of blacks murdered in Chicago alone over just 18 years, from 1991 to 2009—most of them young black men by young black men: Nearly 10,000, and counting.
    Also impacting young black men are these cold hard facts: The U.S. Census reports that one in every four of 34.6 million African Americans live below the national poverty level; that more than 40 percent of family households in the African-American community are headed by women; that 7 out of 10 children born to African Americans are born to single mothers; that more than 846,000 black men are in state or federal prisons and jails—representing more than 40 percent of the nation’s prison population and that there are more black men in prison and jail than in college.
      Additionally, researchers have identified what they call a “schools to prison pipeline” in which they contend you can predict with some degree of statistical certainty by third and fourth grade the number of black and brown boys destined for incarceration.
      This is the portrait of the problem that looms.
   But in our project in the convergence newsroom this semester (Spring 2011) we were after the solutions. In Chicago and across the region, indeed across America, there is a battle to stem this tide and save young black men. 
      What we present here is a snapshot of some of those valiant and humane efforts on the front lines and the faces, voices, stories of those involved in saving our sons. 
Professor John W. Fountain

Featured Video II

Mentoring Camp

Meet the Reporters

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