By Ron Walker, COSEBOC Executive Director
In 1995, I was the recipient of a $65,000 grant from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, earmarked to convene Oakland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston to discuss a concept and plan that I called “Operation Reconnection”. The primary goal was to invite three target groups from each city that were connected to schools within their communities that had, at one time, excelled in their education of Black children but, over time, lost their success and luster.
The three groups from each city corralled schools with a principal, teachers, and counselors who were making a difference. Then they convened neighborhood champions and activists who still believed in the school’s ability to rise again, along with former alumni of the school wanted to “give back.”
One of the key questions was, “What will it take to reconnect committed groups to restore a once thriving school to a pathway of success?” In the midst of planning, guest speaker Dr. Willis Bright of the Eli Lilly Foundation, made a powerful statement that has remained with me for 21 years. He said it was time to ignite a “Conspiracy of Care” and exhorted each city to connect, share skills, glean assets, maximize talents, and recruit other committed educators, activists, advocates, and alumni to join the “Conspiracy”.
As COSEBOC prepares for its 10th Annual Gathering of Leaders in New York City, I am reminded of Dr. Bright’s notion, which requires all hand on deck – our “Village” concept. Be a part of the “Conspiracy of Care”. Be a difference maker for boys and young men of color.
See you in New York.