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      Helping a group of Midlands men realize their worth

      COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Decreasing the achievement gap of African American males has been a topic of discussion for many years, but one question still remains, what is the solution?

      Clayton Dyson, a panelist on the "Man to Man" town hall meeting hosted by the Community Leaders Coalition, argues that there are disparities in Columbia. Dyson adds that not all problems facing the African American youth are related to gang activity.

      "It's some mean people in the world and it has nothing to do with gangs," said Dyson. "It has to do with their hearts, and if we can't touch them and meet them where they are, we can't find real solutions."

      Unafraid to address those solutions, men from all walks of life attended the meeting.

      Many of the panelists recognized that yesterday's society has changed, and problems facing the youth today have to do with education and low parental involvement.

      "If a child is not reading on grade level by third grade, they're taking that number of children who are not mastering the state level standard and building that number of jail cells," said Dr. Jacquetta Chatman, founder of Mothers of Black Boys.

      Chatman says while she was obtaining her doctorate degree, she became concerned behind data in regards to the underachievement of African American males.

      Chatman along with other mentoring groups have made it their goal through forums to help African American males realize their worth in society.

      "They wanted to be able to express themselves, and I knew that the younger men needed to hear from the older, and the older men needed to hear from the younger men," said Chatman.

      Organizers of the forum tell WACH Fox they're hoping to continue the discussion at different venues around the Midlands.