Men, young and old, learned the lesson of being their brother’s keeper at the Eleven Black Men of Liberty County’s 23rd annual Scholarship Banquet March 18.
Liberty County elected officials, community leaders and members gathered at Club Stewart for the banquet, where the theme was "My Brother’s Keeper."
The Eleven Black Men of Liberty County is a mentoring organization that advocates spiritual, educational and social development of young men, called "transcenders."
Mitchell Boston, president of the Eleven Black Men, said transcenders "give back to the community that gives them so much" and are taught to use their talents and skills "for the greater good and for their fellow man."
Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee was the evening’s keynote speaker.
Lee said every child needs a champion, "an adult who will never give up on them."
She read statistics about African American men in education, crime and income.
"The worst thing is about what ‘they’ say is that society has become numb to the statistics and they are taken as the norm," Lee said. "For the Eleven Black Men and many of us tonight that is not the case. We know the potential that these young men have."
She encouraged audience members to work alongside the organization.
"Each of us must walk away from here tonight and every opportunity that we have knowing that each of us may be the brother or the keeper, if not for these young men, but any other person in life that we encounter," she said.
Lee then told transcenders "each of you is called to be a brother and keeper yourself" and to not give up after making mistakes.
To the organization’s directors, Lee said, never lose your passion for helping young people.
Before her speech, Fort Stewart Command Sergeant Major Martin Conroy gave welcoming remarks.
Transcenders performed a skit called "Leave No One Behind" and Nelson Pitts performed a spoken word.
Jeremiah Melton received two scholarships for $500 each. Nicholas Bennett received an academic award.
Andrew Williams received the 2017 President’s Award. Williams is the education chairman and chaplain for the organization.