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Dare To Be King: What if The Prince Lives? A Survival Manual for African American Males

“Until we engage children, youth and families are around serious survival and developmental needs we will continue to see senseless acts of violence in communities. Changing the mindset of people in communities is our only alternative to address violence.”
~David Miller, M.ED- Founder of the Dare To Be King Project

Washington, DC:  Dare To Be King: What if The Prince Lives? A Survival Manual for African American Males is an innovative approach to address urban street culture, violence and a self-defeating mindset among African American males. Dare To Be King: What If the Prince Lives? is the brain child of David Miller a former teacher turned social entrepreneur. The model is a 52 week life/survival skills curriculum designed to teach and coach alternatives to street life. Miller a victim of violence growing up in Baltimore, MD created the model to engage young Black males around three critical areas: anger, decision-making & impulse control. Miller believes that our cities are occupied by thousands of angry males due to failed public policies, absent fathers, eroding communities and dysfunctional schooling.

Dare To Be King is an essential community based tool designed to create a much needed dialogue to challenge narrow definitions of manhood & masculinity. These definitions have created apathy and a fascination with gangs, drugs and a “gangster lifestyle.” Often popularized by shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Hollywood movies that depict young African American males as drug dealers and criminals. Dare To Be King provides young males with a framework for addressing the culture of respect which is a crucial construction of manhood in the eyes of males.

The curriculum uses role playing, case studies, discussion groups and critical thinking activities to attack a mindset of mediocrity and hopelessness. In September 2013, a local New Jersey newspaper ran the headline, “14-year-old Newark boy killed had 30 bricks of heroin and loaded gun in his bedroom.” These incidents speak to the urgent need in creating a greater level of engagement of young males who are locked into a lifestyle of death and destruction.

The curriculum uses the tragic examples of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant to engage young males around topics like community safety, addressing encounters with strangers and the police and how to handle dangerous situations.  For example young males are encouraged to watch the film “Fruitvale Station” and participate in a series of critical thinking activities contained with the curriculum.

From police brutality to surviving being robbed at gun point, the curriculum has developed innovative practices to teach and coach life and survival skills. Other sections of the curriculum boldly challenge fatherlessness, self-image and peer pressure in the lives of adolescent males. Each of these areas are important in shaping the lives of young Black males in our community.

According to Cephus Johnson the Director of the Oscar Grant Foundation, “Without efforts like Dare To Be King, we will continue to see escalating violence, incarceration and younger and younger killers in our community!”

Recently Forbes Magazine published the 10 most dangerous cities in America based on FBI crime data. These cities along with countless others are plagued with serious educational, family and community dynamics that often promote violence as realistic alternatives. Models like Dare To Be King specifically address many of the challenges that young males struggle with daily.  Many times we hear in the news about large cities like Chicago and Detroit but the violence is devastating all communities. Jackie Campbell, Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services City of Rochester Recreation & Youth Services adds

“Rochester is a small city with big city challenges, which are doubly felt by our Black men, and our young boys in particular. Our boys so often need time and space to dialogue on real life issues, from a cultural frame of reference.  The Dare to Be King curriculum allows that and more, and provides them with the necessary skills to be resilient in the face of those real life challenges, and to help them see that success is within their reach.”

Within the 52 week model, serious efforts are also dedicated to working with the parents of the young males involved. From engaging single mothers to help reconnect fathers the “Dare To Be King” model uses holistic approaches to address young Black males.

The Dare To Be King is currently being used in summer programs, after school programs, mentoring projects, and faith church based efforts to support young males.

For more information or to order copies please visit


Alanna Taylor