susan-taylor-and-cecil-hayes_web.jpgMany African Americans can attest to the over-incarceration and demonization of black males, the celebration of the thug lifestyle among black youth and the increasing crime rates within black communities.

The situation leaves many African-American youths vulnerable to becoming part of the dismal statistics of today’s modern society.
These disheartening realities are the reasons behind last week’s community discussion by Essence magazine editor emerita Susan Taylor and famed interior designer
Cecil Hayes.

The two women sat down to address these issues on July 24 with the South Florida community. They also announced the launch of the National Cares Mentoring Movement in Broward County, a mentoring initiative for at-risk youth.

The “All about Love… Love of Home, Love of Self” event at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center also served as the inaugural ceremony of the mentoring initiative in South Florida.

“The most revolutionary thing that we can do right now is to love one another,’’ Taylor said. “And until we know our power and understand that there is nothing weak or incomplete about us, there is no personal challenge that we will ever have that we can’t solve or can’t meet.”

According to statistics offered during the presentation at the event, nearly 60 percent of black fourth graders are functionally illiterate, more than 1,000 black teenagers are arrested every day, only 18 percent of black males graduate from high school in some cities, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for young black women, and homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men.

“This is the most important work of our time as we have more and more organizations,’’ Taylor said. “Yet our young people are falling into greater and greater peril.”

Taylor founded The National Cares Mentoring Movement after she left Essence earlier this year to devote herself full-time to her new philanthropic passion.

The organization, a coalition of the nation’s most trusted organizations and leaders, calls for members of the black community to take action and mentor vulnerable and at-risk black youngsters as it seeks to connect them with a caring adult through existing youth-serving local organizations.

Some of the organizations that are on board with the movement include Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, the NAACP, the National Institute for Literacy, the National 100 Black Men of America, Inc., The National Urban League and Essence.

“Now that I have founded the National Cares Mentoring Movement, I'm in communities throughout the nation,” Taylor said.

The communities that have signed on to mentor through the organization in hopes of enlisting one million mentors across the nation include Houston, Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York City, and others.

The organization came to the attention of millions during an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show.

Taylor and the organization’s co-founder, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., aired a star-studded public service announcement on TV called “These are the facts,” featuring black celebrities who encouraged people to become involved with the program.

Some of these celebrities are Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Diddy and Ciara.

Photo: Susan Taylor, left, and Cecil Hayes, right.