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100 Black Men setting new 'standards'

On Dec. 3 the group called 100 Black Men held their third annual dinner. The theme for the event was "Setting New Standards in Health and Wellness."

100 Black Men of Syracuse Inc., sponsor of the banquet, is a non-profit, non-partisan volunteer organization founded in 2007. 100 Black Men of Syracuse's primary focus is to mentor local African -American males. The group has started mentoring programs at Fowler High School and Blodgett Middle School, as well as its own "Manhood Training Academy."

The honorees were four doctors: Sharon A. Brangman, division chief of geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University; Saundra Barnett-Reyes, who operates a full-time psychiatry practice in Syracuse; Ruben Cowart, founder, president and chief executive officer of Syracuse Community Health Center; and Sylvia Norton, founder and medical director of the James W. Jerva Eye Laser Center in Syracuse.

The dinner celebrated the achievements of the four and focused on highlighting some of their work. It was clear from the event attendance that not only the honorees, but the group itself, had set new standards.

The most moving moment of the evening was when a mother talked about 100 Black Men and how their mentoring has helped her son. She gushed about how this young man has changed and developed goals and dreams never uttered in the past. She told the silent group of 510 people how he's now planning on going to college and she expressed her gratitude to the group as they honored her son's achievements.

At one point in a conversation with Mark Mohammed I suddenly had a thought as I surveyed the room. "Mark if we locked these doors the 510 people in here, just these 510 people could transform Syracuse."

I continued speaking excitedly, like a kid who'd just discovered candy: "the doctors, lawyers, representatives from all walks of African-American life. The fraternities and sororities, community activists, volunteers, mentors of every shape and color, this is what's needed. We need to harness the collective energy of these 510 people assembled here to honor the achievements of 100 Black Men."

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