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Dallas Easton
Men of Color Leadership Conference

Tywan Martin
FASE Mentoring Program

Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2005

IPS Superintendent Eugene White to keynote Men of Color Leadership Conference at IU

Oct. 19, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Eugene G. White, superintendent of the Indianapolis Public School Corp., will be the keynote speaker at the 2005 Men of Color Leadership Conference at Indiana University Bloomington on Nov. 11-12.

The student-led conference is committed to uniting African American, Latino, Asian and Native American men throughout the country by providing a platform and a venue for effective dialogue and leadership development.

Now in its second year, it is being expanded beyond IU to include student leaders, community members and educators from across Indiana and other states. Participating students will include those from Purdue, Indiana State and Ball State universities, other IU campuses and two historically black colleges -- Morgan State University of Baltimore, Md., and Savannah State University in Georgia.

The conference will begin with a 6 p.m. reception and Veteran's Day tribute on Nov. 11 in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N Jordan Ave. Men of color who are U.S. veterans are invited to attend. A series of workshops on building leadership, role modeling, and academic and communication skills will continue Nov. 12 at the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St.

White will speak at a luncheon that begins at 11:45 a.m. on Nov. 12 in the Frangipani Room in the IMU. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan also will speak that day at 9:45 a.m. The fee to attend the conference is $20 before the conference and $30 at the event. The fee includes all conference materials, the reception and luncheon and refreshments. To register and for complete information, go to

Among the topics the students will discuss, with the involvement of several IU faculty members, are incarceration rates for people of color compared to their higher education enrollment rates, building relationships between men and women, and the importance of social capital.

Dallas Easton, an IU senior from South Bend, Ind., and one of seven children in his family, came up with the idea for the event and organized a campus group, New Beings, which organized two similar but smaller events last year.

Easton said participants in last year's events learned that without communication between all men of color, their experiences are mistakenly viewed as unique without a source of validation.

"I felt that IU was missing a link which connected, promoted and developed the cultural identity for African American and Latino males. Men of color across collegiate and non-collegiate lines confront systemic problems. Among those problems are the lack of college enrollment, high school completion, premature pregnancies and juvenile delinquency," Easton said. "In fact, more of our men are entering the penal system at a greater rate than they are achieving a bachelor's degree. I felt that it was necessary to provide us men with an opportunity to discuss the joys and daily challenges that have traditionally hindered our growth. The conference will allow for an exchange of ideas and experiences from and a broad array of men and their supporters."

Since their initial efforts, the group has reached out to involve Asian and Native American male students. Wesley Thomas, an IU anthropology professor and member of the Navajo tribe, will present the session, "Dilemmas in First Nations Communities: Difference Between Cultural and Ethnic Identities."

"We want students of color to get the access to the system, to have opportunities to excel just like everyone else. What we want to do with a conference like this is address those issues and what we can do about them," said Tywan Martin, outreach specialist for the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence Mentoring Program (FASE), who serves on the conference planning committee. "We want to go forward by providing students with information that encourages them to go back to whatever university they attend or community they live and provide a helping hand for persons that look up to them."

William Wiggins, professor emeritus of African American and African Diaspora studies and interim director of the FASE program, has witnessed many civil rights and minority affairs efforts since coming to IU in 1969. Wiggins is excited that the male students of color want to address their own communities' problems and look for solutions from within, unlike the previous efforts that sought to bring about change outside these diverse communities.

"This is reversing it now. This is not going to Washington or going down to the mayor's office. These are bread and butter issues," Wiggins said. "As an old head who's been here for some time, I'm very happy to see what they're doing. I'm just trying to encourage them and get out of the way.

"I am heartened by the involvement of these young men," Wiggins added. "I see this as a landmark event in the service of Indiana University, as a further indication of its being true to its mission, which is the education of all the sons and daughters of this state."

The FASE Mentoring Program is presenting this conference with co-sponsorship from Groups Student Support Services, the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs, the Office of Academic Support and Diversity, Winters Associates, the City of Bloomington, Diversity Initiatives of the Kelley School of Business, the Dean of Students, WFIU, BCS Advertising and the Bloomington Visitors Bureau.

About Eugene White:

White, who assumed leadership of IPS in July, was born in 1947 in Phenix City, Ala., to a single 17-year-old mother and was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He grew up in a time of segregation and Jim Crow practices in southeast Alabama. He was a starting member of the 1966 Alabama state championship basketball team. He accepted a scholarship to Alabama A&M University, where he graduated with academic honors and set career scoring marks.

He was a teacher, coach and school administrator for 19 years in the Fort Wayne Community Schools, where he was its first African American high school principal. He became the first African American principal at Indianapolis' North Central High School and also was deputy superintendent of IPS. Before returning to IPS, he was superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township (Indianapolis) for 11 years.

He is the author of a book, Leadership Beyond Excuses: The Courage to Hold the Rope, for colleagues and others interested in effective leadership.