Omari Hardwick brought his star "power" to the My Brother's Keeper Town Hall at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Convention on Friday. The actor opened the town hall by reading a poem he wrote to inspire and ignite a fire in young boys of color.
The four-hour conversation, emceed by Hardwick, featured several panelists including Soledad O'Brien, Rev. Al Sharpton, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, chair of My Brother's Keeper Task force Broderick Johnson and several others.
"For [the president] to have My Brother's Keeper as a pivotal priority is so important," said Johnson, who is an assistant to the president. "The president is committed to this for the rest of his presidency. He has said repeatedly that this is his life's work."
Mentorship is the thread that seemed to tie the conversation together. Florida Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, who co-hosted the town hall with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, is the founder of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which she started while she was a principal at a Florida elementary school. The organization inducted the Power star into the brotherhood with a mission to "enlighten and guide" students with the "wisdom and desire to succeed."
O'Brien moderated the first set of panelists as they talked about community-based programs that have been successful in inspiring young Black men in their neighborhoods. Mayor Walsh highlighted programs in the city of Boston that helped youth in his city. Dorothy Stoneman, founder and CEO of YouthBuild, talked about her mission to inspire young people since she started her organization in East Harlem several decades ago.
David Peake, who is from the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, has the success story that My Brother's Keeper hopes to continue telling. Peake was featured in the documentary Rise: The Power of My Brother's Keeper, which aired on Father's Day on the Discovery Channel.
A rising junior at Georgetown University, he joined the panel to talk about how mentors and his experience at Urban Prep Academy in Chicago inspired him to keep pushing for success. A few years ago, Peake probably wouldn't have imagined himself on a panel with an actor, journalist and mayor. But it was the "mentorship, love and brotherhood" of Urban Prep that helped him get to where he is today.
"I've never seen a group of brothers like I have at Urban Prep," Peake said. "Being from Englewood in Chicago, I didn't really have college on my mind. When I got to Urban Prep, I met a lot of good examples there that lead me in the right direction."
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(Photo: Jasmine Hardy / BET)