Addressing Public Policy
The Commission has been instrumental in helping address crucial issues that perniciously affect black males in Indiana. Specifically, the Commission has sponsored state and/or national conferences on these vital concerns. In 2001, the Commission was asked by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) to become the permanent host of the African-American Male National Conference. The Commission hosts conferences and symposiums to bring together in a single place leaders in education, health, criminal justice, civil affairs, and other fields to discuss the problems plaguing our communities, and begin fashioning grass-roots action plans to mitigate the impact of the problems and to alleviate their root causes. Also, the conferences and symposiums aim to rally participants around real-world solutions that individuals and community organizations can take today to help particularly affected segments of our population help themselves, without either wallowing in the continued mire of social ills or over-relying on government hand-outs and programs.
The conferences have dealt with such topics as "Educating the Black Male - Breaking the Cycle", "Education Versus Incarceration", "The Prison Track to the College Track", and others. Conference speakers have presented practical workshops on matters such as identifying risk factors for children entering the juvenile justice system, appropriate conflict resolution, mentoring, fitting-in in majority communities, and how black males should behave when they are stopped by the police. Keynote speakers have included such notables as United States Congressman Danny K. Davis, Dr. Julia Hare, Dr. N'iam Akbar, television's Judge Greg Mathis, Dick Gregory and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. On average, roughly 450 people have attended each of our state and national conferences including large student groups from public school corporations. Feedback from students and school administrators indicate our conferences are very well-received.
The Commission has also been actively involved in establishing local commissions to take action in Indiana's cities and towns. Since its beginning, the Commission has helped activate ten local commissions in localities around the state, including Anderson, Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Michigan City, Muncie and South Bend. In consultation with the State Commission, local commissions have performed a variety of public services such as organizing and hosting town hall meetings to amicably resolve potential hot-flash issues; performed research to assist local politicians, school officials, and others in substance abuse programs to provide children with tools for resisting temptations that exist because of the social ills our communities face. In short, this is government working as it should, in service to the people, helping people take control of their destinies by formulation citizen-driven solutions to contemporary problems.