In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, 50 Morehouse College undergraduates traveled 12 hours by bus using this historic time to present their sacred empowerment ceremony to young Black men who need it most.
Football players, staff and faculty at Ballou High School in Southeast sat in awe of the dynamic performances of the Men of Morehouse on Friday, Oct. 9.
“We knew that we had a mission in coming to D.C.,” Jonathan Hill, chief of staff of the Student Government Association, said. “We want them to see that we care and to reassure them that despite the challenges you can make it.”
Hill, a 2013 graduate of McKinley Technology High School in Northeast, hatched the idea to bring an empowerment ceremony for young men to a District high school as a 2015 summer intern with the District of Columbia Public Schools system.
“During my time as a summer intern, I was always thinking ‘What could I do?’ ‘What do my brothers need?’ And I realized it was exposure,” Hill said. “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
DCPS launched Empowering Men of Color in January of 2015 as a branch of President Barack Obama’s nationwide initiative My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.
“This event is about showing the young brothers how brilliant they are and how excellent we are as a people,” said Denzel Fields, a senior English major from Memphis. “It is a part of the Morehouse mission to create and promote meaningful networks.”
The dynamic presentation included song, dance, step, monologues and folktales.
“Everything that we did is about tradition,” Fields said. It’s in our African heritage to communicate through dance and song.”
Marcus Forest, a junior wide receiver for the undefeated Ballou High School football team, asserts that he could have never have expected what the Men of Morehouse had to offer.
“I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. I just thought they would talk,” Forest said. I really liked when they came in stepping and how they did everything. It was cool.”
“There is no place on Earth like Morehouse for the development of a young black man,” Timothy Sams, vice president for student development, said. “What these young men showed today was excellence, pursuit of perfection and brotherhood. This is what we want the boys of Ballou to get out of this experience.”
A Morehouse Man, Henry Thompson, class of 1965, could not control the joy he possessed watching the fellowship between the two groups of young men.
“I thought it was absolutely fantastic with the positive images it’s giving the guys at Ballou,” Thompson said. “It encourages the guys to think bigger than what they can see.”
Hill, the hometown boy who came back with a mission, hopes that the young men of Ballou High School will use the ceremony as a source of inspiration.
“This is the first time we’ve ever performed our rituals outside of Morehouse, but this is historic and necessary.”