Ten years ago, fewer than 20 young men of color showed up for Highline College’s first Black and Brown Male Summit in 2009.
Now, organizers estimate approximately 700 students, adults and volunteers will be in attendance for the 10th annual summit, set to take place Nov. 15-17.
Director of Community Engagement Rashad Norris, who co-founded the summit with other Highline employees, said a guiding force has been one consistent message.
“We started our first with the theme ‘Reach One, Teach One,’ and we’re at the moment now that we see when you reach one, you can reach many, and it’s a beautiful sight to see,” Norris said. “It’s something that I truly hold near and dear to my heart.”
With the theme “The Takeover,” this year’s summit will send the message to young men of color it’s time to take back their voices, their bodies, their mindsets, their actions and their behavior.
“We are responsible for our own selves, our own identities, our own personal triumphs and our own personal failures,” Norris said. “We don’t need no one using their own personal narrative to describe who we are or what we are and how we walk and how we think.”
Norris said most of the time young men of color are inaccurately described as lazy, aggressive or hypersexual, but the summit will send them the message it’s important these young men write their own book and speak their own truth.
As part of the many workshops planned throughout the main event on Saturday, a keynote speaker, whose identity has remained secret, will present to students. Norris said the speaker is known at a national and international level for their social justice advocacy. But because this person is likely recognizable by adults today, his identity is being kept under wraps so that young men who attend will be able experience his presence in a more authentic manner.
What’s unique about this year’s Black and Brown Male Summit, however, is that the event will begin on Friday with an invite-only special reception for past presenters and keynote speakers, and it will end on Sunday with a fundraising banquet. The banquet is open to all community members and donors, and aims to raise funds for future summits but also for a scholarship that would fund a local student’s Highline College tuition for up to one year.
“An individual from a local school district would qualify for this scholarship through the means of talking about how this summit has helped them become the person who they are today,” Norris said, adding that while the goal is to raise funds for a year’s worth of tuition, he’d love it if more money was raised to be able to help more prospective students.
The banquet will offer a silent auction, raffle and a dessert dash in addition to different levels of sponsorship opportunities. To date, top sponsors include BNY Mellon Wealth Management of Seattle, Inspirus Credit Union of Tukwila, Port of Seattle and the Faculty & Staff of Color Conference of Washington state.
As for future years? Norris said he envisions the summit bigger and better than ever.
“We’re looking forward to seeing where [summit attendees] land,” Norris said. “If not on this campus, then thriving at some other campus, knowing that the Black and Brown Male Summit is where they felt they got connected with what they want to do.”
For more information on the Black and Brown Male Summit, including details on registration and fundraising banquet tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit bandbsummit.highline.edu. To stay connected, “Like” the Black and Brown Male Summit on Facebook.