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In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois posed a serious and thought-provoking question about the human condition of Black people in 1903 America: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Du Bois was not delving into problems that arise from financial constraints, educational depression, or an unfair judicial system, but the problem of simply being a breathing, feeling, and thoughtful Black body.

The culprit

Du Bois wrote about the conditions of Black people in 1903 America and oddly enough his words ring true today, especially in relation to our students. If I presented you a school environment where the people who resemble you and your family members were not equitably reflected in advanced placement courses, gifted and talented programs, or even as your instructional leaders, but were the faces of discipline policies and academic interventions programs, you might think there’s a problem. Either the system is completely broken, or our students are the culprit.

When we see our students, especially our boys, as problems and do not acknowledge their positive attributes, we miss out on the beauty of their perspectives. We miss out on the reality of their dreams, and they miss out on what Aristotle defines as the “good life” — intellectual and character virtues.

How Profound Gentlemen works

Profound Gentlemen was birthed by the idea that our Black and Brown boys are assets, and we equip men of color with the resources, structures, and tools to uncover these assets through education and mentorship. Not only are we preparing men of color to be leaders in their school building, but we empower them to use our Code Orange Curriculum that infuses social emotional learning, college and career readiness, and civic and community engagement to ensure that their students, especially their boys, are on a cradle-to-career pipeline. These educators dedicate additional time to support boys of color by meeting at least 120 minutes a month and facilitating Code Orange activities into their lessons.

Our work in action

I want to highlight an educator: Archie Moss. He is the principal of Bruce Elementary School in Memphis, TN. Mr. Moss founded and currently runs the Gentlemen’s League, a program designed to educate, empower, and enrich males. In elementary school, he uses Profound Gentlemen’s framework of social and emotional learning, college and career readiness, and civic and community engagement to equip his boys with the skills to enter into a cradle-to-career pipeline.

“Archie has done a tremendous job in working with Black males,” said Mario Jovan Shaw, co-founder and chief program officer of Profound Gentlemen. “In Charlotte, he created an organization that transformed the lives of his students with the Gentlemen’s League. He then moved to Memphis where the same impact his happening in the 901 community. I look forward to seeing his continued impact of his work.”

Mr. Moss highlights the assets of his boys by encouraging them to create their own narratives. Check out their work.

Mr. Moss is one of the hundreds of male educators of color in the Profound Gentlemen community who is reshaping the narrative for boys of color in his school. We have a front row seat to observe and support the impact he is having, and we know that his work is fueling young boys to enter a cradle-to-career pipeline.

Visit profoundgentlemen.org — be a friend, a supporter, and grab a front row seat to watch the impact.

Jason Terrell

Jason began his journey as an 8th-grade teacher in Charlotte Mecklenburg School. In the classroom, he served as a mentor, athletic coach, and tutor and was deeply invested in his students’ pursuit of academic and personal success. In 2015, he became co-Founder and Executive Director of Profound Gentlemen, a national agency dedicated to increasing the 2% of male educators of color who teach across the nation. Through this work, Jason has received numerous fellowship experiences and has been recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 as one of the world’s brightest social innovators who seek to bring about change and equal opportunity for boys and male educators of color. When Jason is not working, he is spending time with his wife and son, going to rap concerts, and boxing.