The City of Boston’s Office for Black Male Advancement has launched its first ever pilot program to help promote civic engagement in Black and African American communities around the metropolitan area. The Office will offer weekly courses lasting 8 weeks to ambitious young men, in the hope of paving the way for the broad betterment of the underserved minority communities.
The City of Boston is one of the most proactive in the States when it comes to promoting racial equity as a positive public goal. As additional steps towards this ideal, the City government established the ‘Office for Black Male Advancement’ in February, as a supplement to the 21-member Black Men and Boys Commission founded in 2021. Frank Farrow, a Boston native, is currently serving as the first executive director of the Office, and its efforts are already bearing fruit.
The Office announced its first high-profile public program Wednesday, with the name of ‘Black Men Lead Boston’. This project will take the form of an intense 8-week long course that will soon be available to the general public. The course was developed by The Davis System, a local grassroots movement run by Black civic leaders. The first class to study the course has been pre-selected and will help improve it for the future men who volunteer to take it. The contents and efficacy of the course is still unclear.
The announcement was met with applause and lauded as a positive effort to prepare the future generation of Black civil leaders. Ron Bell, founder of the voter turnout organization ‘Dunk the Vote’, believes the course will make “Make a big difference”, in that it instills “A sense of hope, a sense of pride” in aspiring young leaders. The program organizer Anthony Davis Jr. identified the objective of the course with “Equip[ping] Black men with knowledge, skills, and connections that there have been systemic barriers to accessing.”
Other Black leaders were skeptical about the value of the initiative. Louis Elisa, a prominent member of the Black Men and Boys Commission, showed his dismay to the “Ridiculous” idea that civic engagement can be acquired in a classroom environment. Conan Harris, husband of the Massachusetts (D) representative Ayanna Pressley, expressed similar concerns.
Frank Farrow, who heads the Office and therefore supervises the current program, reacted to this criticism by citing his own example. Mr. Farrow observed that his late start to political activism in 2008 did not stop him from achieving leadership success.