A Ban on Immigration Does Not Reflect the Heart of America

A Ban on Immigration Does Not Reflect the Heart of America


By Brian L. Pauling

100 Black Men of America, Inc. stands with the millions of United States citizens and people around the world who oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.


The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” She serves as an icon of freedom and has been a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad since 1886.  Every “American,” except for the indigenous peoples native to North America, came to these shores from a foreign land.  Many came of their own volition, while others were forced to leave their native lands because of slavery, war or persecution. These ideas are the foundation on which the United States of America was built.


A ban on immigration runs counter to the words of Lady Liberty and all America represents. To ban those entering our borders because of the religion they practice or the country in which they were born, will only serve to separate families and further divide our nation. Therefore, 100 Black Men of America, Inc. calls on each elected official to stand up and publicly denounce this ban on immigration and work together to develop meaningful, effective and nondiscriminatory immigration reform.


Brian L. Pauling is national president and CEO of 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc. Thanks President Barack Obama for Eight Years of Service

We at 100 Black Men of America, Inc. (“The 100”) want to offer our collective and heartfelt thanks to President Barack H. Obama for his eight years of exemplary service to the people of the United States of America as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief and its first president of African-American descent.


As the largest non-profit, African-American-led, mentoring organization in the country, serving more than 125,000 mentees, our motto is, “What They See Is What They’ll Be®.” Since President Obama was first elected to office in 2008, our mentees have been able to see someone who looks like them holding the highest office of the land. In President Obama, our mentees see that they, too, can aspire to become anything they want – including President of the United States.


We thank President Obama for calling the nation’s attention to the plight of Black boys and young men by launching his My Brother’s Keeper initiative. We were especially gratified that mentoring is a key component of that effort, which proves what we know from all the research and our own experience: connecting young people to thoughtful and devoted mentors and vital support services produces positive, life-changing outcomes. That remains important today, as we celebrate National Mentoring Month, and every day.


We thank the President for the leadership, grace and courage he showed when tackling tough issues during his administration. We appreciate his efforts on behalf of all of Americans to make healthcare affordable for everyone; to move our nation from economic depression to economic recovery; and to ensure the safety of the American people from the threat of terrorism – foreign and domestic. President Obama called out unfair policing practices in communities of color and championed efforts to fix our nation’s broken criminal justice system, which disproportionately criminalizes, sentences and incarcerates African Americans more than any other group.


He stood up for the outcast, disenfranchised and those living on the fringes of our society. He also challenged us, individually and collectively, to stand up and recommit ourselves to address the social ills plaguing so many of our communities, such as the pervasive problem of gun violence.


As an organization, 100 Black Men of America formed a criminal justice reform task force, recommended that all our chapter leaders read President Obama’s Task Force report on 21st Century Policing, and intensified our partnership with local law enforcement agencies to encourage and support effective policing practices in the communities we serve.


President Obama made us proud, serving alongside First Lady Michelle Obama with dignity and respect while carrying out the duties and responsibilities that come with holding the highest office of the land. We honor the First Family’s sacrifice in serving the nation these past eight years.


On behalf of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and the tens of thousands of young people we serve, we wish President Obama and his family great success and Godspeed as he leaves office, re-enters civilian life and begins his next chapter.


Curley M. Dossman, Jr., Chairman of the Board, 100 Black Men of America, Inc.



Click the image above to download a PDF of the letter






I am saddened and frustrated every time I hear about the academic achievement gulf that exists between Black students and their White classmates in our nation’s public schools. Saddened because I know that, without a quality education, the future for these children is bleak; frustrated because, if we don’t do something now, we will continue to fail these children in a way that will cause irreparable harm to them, their families (both current and future), our communities and the world.


That’s why 100 Black Men of America, Inc. (“The 100”) is issuing a clarion call to all Americans who share our concern about the fate of our children and communities and asking them to raise their voices with ours to bring attention to one of the most critical civil rights issues of our time: education equity. The reason is as clear-cut as it is troubling: Far too many low-income and Black youth are languishing in failing schools. This places them at a severe disadvantage in achieving their full potential, becoming leaders in their communities and competing in a global economy. No child’s future should be determined by their color, economic status or zip code. To The 100’s network of more than 100 chapters around the world, this is appalling and unacceptable! We need organizations and caring adults to join us in a collective effort for systemic and sustainable education reform.


The 100’s 50-year history of mentoring African American youth has given us a unique perspective on what is and isn’t working in many of the nation’s public schools through the experiences of the young people we serve. Although the high school dropout rate is improving, it still is not where it should be. It is also disturbing that, of those African American youth who do successfully graduate high school, far too many are woefully unprepared for freshman-level college coursework. As a result, they are required to complete remedial classes as a prerequisite for acceptance into post-secondary institutions. Some find themselves so far behind that it seems impossible to catch up. Not only does this situation shatter their self-esteem, but it also suffocates their desire to even try. Rather than face the humiliation of trying to catch up to their peers, some simply give up and drop out.


While there is no silver bullet or quick fix to these problems, we believe the journey toward solutions begins with creating high-performing schools. Schools, for example, that promote high student expectations and achievement, insist on teacher accountability through regular evaluations and encourage innovation among principals and other school leaders.


The 100 has been a longtime supporter of traditional public schools, where most of the youth we serve attend. While each of our chapters is deeply rooted and involved in their communities, true education reform requires a collective effort from like-minded organizations and individuals. To that end, in October during The 100’s Education Summit in Washington, D.C., our members from across the country met with leaders from several nonprofit, education and civil rights organizations to explore ways to collaborate, mobilize and advocate for action that leads to positive, tangible and lasting change. During our discussions, areas of agreement included advocating for public school education options for parents and their children. Our youth should not be doomed to 12 years – between kindergarten and senior year – of academic failure. We will remain committed to supporting those public schools that are high-performers and able to demonstrate exceptional and measurable academic outcomes for our children – or those that are executing a plan to successfully reach that goal.


When traditional public schools fail to perform at high levels, our organization supports educational alternatives, including successful nonprofit charter schools. We also need to encourage nonprofit public


charters and traditional public schools to collaborate and share best practices that have proven to be successful in educating low-income and Black children.


No matter which type of schools parents and guardians ultimately decide are best for their children, all public schools – particularly those in African American and economically disadvantaged communities – must be high-performing, evidence-based institutions of learning where children are prepared to advance successfully to the next grade level, graduate from high school and progress seamlessly into college and career. The time is now – before another child’s future is lost – to raise our collective voices in advocacy and take action so that high-performing public schools in our communities become the norm rather than the exception. While this task may seem daunting, our children’s futures, quality of life and, in some cases, their very lives are at stake. As we continue to mobilize and boldly declare that “Black Lives Matter,” I submit that we must also affirm through immediate community engagement that Black Minds Matter, too. Collectively, we can help ensure that our children get the education – and the future – they rightfully deserve.

High-Performing Schools are the Best Gateway to Success

High-Performing Schools are the Best Gateway to Success


As the school year winds down, one can’t help but think of graduations and where and how students will embark upon the next phase of their lives. Unfortunately, the opportunities for far too many will be limited because of disparities in graduation rates and in opportunities for students at high-performing schools compared with their counterparts at low-performing schools.

Although U.S. high school graduation rates have significantly improved, U.S. Department of Education statistics show that African-American and Hispanic/Latino students are still graduating 5 to 10 points behind the national average. Further, students from low-income families are graduating at a rate that’s 14.4 percentage points below that of their peers from wealthier backgrounds.

For students to be competitive in post-secondary education and career, they have to be properly prepared. Whether competing for admission to college or entering a career, the student graduating from the high-performing school invariably has the advantage over the one from the low-performing school. And although each may have a diploma in hand, the student from a low-performing school will more times than not require remedial courses and start behind the curve when trying to achieve long-term success.

100 Black Men of America, Inc. strongly believes the remedy to this situation is advocating for and demanding high-performing schools for all students – and particularly African-American and poor students. We feel that high-performing public schools, whether traditional or charter, are the best gateway to higher education. Coupled with strong parental involvement, quality education options – ones that ensure every child has access to the high-performing school best suited for him or her – will help them achieve long-term career success.

Sadly, many of the nation’s low-performing schools are in minority and low-income neighborhoods. Far too many of these public schools have inadequate resources and their classrooms are overcrowded. They often lack the things higher-performing schools take for granted – experienced teachers, counselors, special education services, current-edition textbooks, and access to technology, to name a few – and their students suffer. When those conditions are allowed to continue, students’ paths can deviate from higher education and career to paths of overwhelming struggle, economic challenge and potentially prison.

This is why we must implore our school administrators on the neighborhood, district, city, state and national levels to do their level best to make public education more equitable in every school. In a Washington Post article, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on cities and states to rethink their current incarceration practices and proposed funneling an estimated $15 billion in savings from incarcerations to substantially raise teacher pay in high-poverty schools. He reasoned that higher salaries could attract better teachers to low-performing schools where the help is most needed.

“With a move like this, we’d not just make a bet on education over incarceration, we’d signal the beginning of a long-range effort to pay our nation’s teachers what they are worth,” Duncan said. “That sort of investment wouldn’t just make teachers and struggling communities feel more valued. It would have ripple effects on our economy and on our civic life.

He gets it. We want to make sure everybody else gets it as well. High-performing schools are the best gateway to success. When our children have access to high-performing schools, it exponentially increases their chances to achieve their full potential.

Gun Violence – A Critical Public Health Issue

100 Black Men of America, Inc. (The 100) recently participated in a televised discussion on gun violence called “The Gun Fight.”  Since the taping of that show, gun violence in our communities has become even more personal because it has again directly impacted more of our mentees.


Zaevion Dobson had been a mentee of 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville since he was 8 years old.  You’ve heard his story: The standout sophomore football player at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tenn. was attending a gathering of teammates and friends when a gunman drove by opening fire. Without regard for his own life, Zaevion dove on top of three young ladies to shield them.  He gave his life that day.  Weeks later in Washington, D.C., another 100 mentee was walking down the street, when a car pulled up and one of its passengers said, “If you want to live, you need to run.” He began running, and they began shooting.  The mentee was shot, but unlike Zaevion, he will survive. But with what scars?


I realize that there are many contributing factors to this carnage in our communities and no single answer to end this rampant disrespect for life.  Too many people merely want to debate gun policy and gun laws, while our children are being murdered at places they are supposed to be – homes, churches, schools and playgrounds.


Gun violence is a critical public health issue impacting communities of every economic stature and ethnic demographic nationally.  The FBI’s 2014 Crime in the United States report found that 82 percent of whites murdered by guns where killed by other whites. Similarly, 90 percent of blacks murdered by guns where killed by other blacks.  The mental and physical health affects of gun violence, however, impact us all. If we don’t stop the rhetoric and start investing in interventions that impact young people’s lives, we will continue to suffer consequences of gun violence in cities nationwide.


The 100’s mentoring services teach youth how to make better choices, provide guidance on setting and achieving goals, and demonstrate how to diffuse situations before they escalate to tragic consequences. Our economic empowerment programs promote job skills training, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Our health and wellness initiatives increase students’ school attendance rates, which have a direct impact on their ability to learn, earn and succeed. That’s why education reform is one of The 100’s top priorities, and we are pushing hard in our advocacy efforts with local and national policy-makers to ensure that every student in every community has access to high-performing schools and high-quality teachers.


Gun violence cut short the life of Zaevion Dobson, one so full of hope and promise. The time for talking and debating is over. We must take swift and decisive action to end this crisis in our communities before another precious life is needlessly lost.