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On Saturday, the Black Male Summit will show young men how to respond during a traffic stop, and other important skills
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On Saturday, the Black Male Summit will show young men how to respond during a traffic stop, and other important skills

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The fourth annual Black Male Summit will bring police officers, state representatives and experts together to Opelika High School on Saturday in order to help encourage and young black men about topics relevant to them today.

This year’s summit is themed “I AM: Conversations for Black Males that Matter,” and will cover topics ranging from mental health issues, policing, voting rights and more.

The free event is being put on by Dream Day Foundation, a local nonprofit started in 2009 and dedicated to helping and empowering the black community.

Marion Sankey, founder and executive director of the Dream Day Foundation, said the Black Male Summit was all about empowering young black men by educating them about issues they are facing now in order to help them lead better lives.

“We just want to be a beacon of light in the Lee County and surrounding areas with a focus on our young people,” Sankey said. “We want to cultivate them to be innovators – leaders can changemakers – and we try to do that through arts, service and whatever we can do to help.”

Alabama State Representative Jeremy Gray, scheduled to give the opening address at this year’s summit, said he has attended every past summit and praised them for bringing black youth together around common issues and life experiences.

“It’s important to just get black boys together and create a bond and some camaraderie with black men that look like them and tell them their life experiences,” Gray said. “We talk about everything they’re dealing with. It’s like sitting in a barbershop—in the black community, the barber shop or hair salon is the place you go to talk, kind of like therapy.”

Representatives from the Opelika Police Department will teach youth about the do’s and don’ts of traffic stops, going to traffic court and court procedures.

Opelika Police Capt. Tony Amerson said his department’s presentation would also include demonstrations on good and bad ways to react to a traffic stop.

“The main purpose of all of this is to educate our youth and make them aware, and we’re really just trying to focus on building a partnership with the community as a whole and giving them an understanding of what we actually do as police officers,” Amerson said.

The Black Male Summit will take place at Opelika high School from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Registration for the event, which is available to parents and children ranging from fifth grade to college, can be done in advance online at www.dreamdayblackmalesummit.com or at the school Saturday morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided by the Good Ol’ Boys Social Club, and t-shirts for the event will be available for purchase.

The event is being sponsored by the Harris Funeral Home, Kroger, McDonald’s of Auburn and Opelika, and the Opelika City Council.

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