Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National Cares Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine, delivered a message of hope in Pine Bluff Saturday.
Taylor spoke at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The program was also a part of the week-long Kingfest Celebration honoring the legacy of slain Civil Rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
A former editor for Essence, Taylor left that career to seek what she described as a higher calling with mentoring. She gave a heart felt speech about how people make the difference in communities.
“The village is on fire,” Taylor said as she spoke about problems faced by youth, including crime.
“The first responders to show up to help are white women, then white men, and then black women and black men. Most of those that need help are young black men, and yet we don’t show up. We need to hear the call and get involved,” she said.
People are far too swift to judge each other rather than to lend their hands to help.
“We whine and complain, and we let our own self image and our drama stand in the way of doing what we need to do,” Taylor said as she received resounding praise from the audience that responded to her call to get involved.
“When children need help, and when teachers don’t have chalk, and toilets don’t flush….we can’t look to the White House either, we have to do it for ourselves,”she said.
Community leaders and members of UAPB faculty attended the program, which is part of the National Mentoring Month. Rev. Jesse Turner, executive director of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, was also in attendance and was asked by Taylor how many people they needed for the mentoring program.
“Five hundred for the number of children we have who need mentoring,” Turner said.
Taylor looked to the audience and made her plea.
“One hour a week and 500 people. That’s not hard is it? We can do that,” Taylor said.
Taylor founded the National Cares Mentoring Movement in 2006 as Essence Cares. The Cares mentoring movement is a campaign to recruit 1 million able adults to help secure children who are in peril and losing ground.
The goals of the Cares movement are to increase high school graduation rates among black students and end the violence in black communities and the over-incarceration of black young, according to a spokesman for the program.
“Creating safe, top-tier schools in every undeserved community in this nation is the mandate — and it’s doable,” Taylor said in a press release recently.
The goal of the Pine Bluff CARES affiliate is to recruit mentors, provide them with training and direct them into quality group mentoring and other youth-serving initiatives in area.
For details about the local mentoring program, call 536-7274 or visit pinebluff @caresmentoring.org