Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ron Kirk challenges Fort Worth leaders to mentor black youths

Article: Ron Kirk challenges Fort Worth leaders to mentor black youths

FORT WORTH — Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk challenged African-American business and civic leaders in Fort Worth on Thursday to foster education among black youths and restore family values.

Speaking at the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards luncheon, Kirk told the sell-out crowd that they need to live up to their responsibility as leaders and mentor black teenagers. He also said the government and the nation need to do more to support black colleges and universities.

"I believe our community is in peril," Kirk said. "Our future is in crisis."

Kirk, who unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat in 2002, is the Texas chairman of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Citing statistics, Kirk said that in 1865, less than 5 percent of the freed slave population could read. About 50 years later, 80 percent of blacks could read and write. But today, in every major urban area in the country, less than half of African-American boys and girls entering the eighth grade will graduate from high school, he said.

Moreover, Kirk said it is a sad fact that census statistics on the number of 13- and 14-year-old black and Hispanic boys are used to forecast prison construction.

"We cannot sit here and just celebrate this day and celebrate the accomplishments of those here and not recognize that our generation has been the beneficiaries of everything our parents and grandparents fought for," Kirk said. "Our generation has to be re-engaged in saving the future of our children."

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