MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For more than 20 years the 100 Black Men of South Florida have set the standard for mentoring programs in South Florida.
16-year-old Jamir Moore has a feathery jump shot, a 4.8 grade point average and big dreams.
“I wanna be this great young man,” Moore said. “I wanna be able to have and be able to say ‘I can take care of them’ or even when I go to college I wanna be able to say that ‘I know how to do this, I know how to live my own life, I know how to be my own man.’”
The man who helped unlock this ambition is Opa-locka City Commissioner Matthew Pigatt.
Pigatt is a mentor in the 100 Black Men of South Florida, a chapter in a national organization whose slogan is ‘What They See Is What They’ll Be’.
A generation ago, Pigatt himself was a kid in this program.
“They used to tell me funny stories,” Moore said with a laugh as Pigatt smiled. “How Matt used to be the one to cause trouble sometimes.”
Pigatt laughs now, but back then he flirted with juvenile delinquency and cared little about school.
At first, he didn’t identify with his mentors until their successful lifestyles made him wonder.
“I realized they all went to college and became professionals and I wanted to become that,” Pigatt said.
Now, Pigatt helps run this leadership academy every other Saturday.
Sixty kids blow off steam by playing games like dodge ball, but the real aim is to help them dodge obstacles in life.
To Moore, there is something powerful about black men mentoring black youth.
“I know that these men have gone through what I have gone through as an African-American and that right there is just the main thing that connects me to them,” Moore said.
On this weekend at the group’s leadership academy, students got a dose of biology; dissecting sheep hearts.
But Moore and the others have also been taken to faraway places like camping trips at Yosemite National Park.
These experiences already have these young minds plotting their career paths.
These game plans are music to the ears of Pigatt, who feels he has found his purpose as a 100 Black Men mentor.
“We are completely committed to seeing these young men transform and become as productive as possible for the rest of their lives,” Pigatt said. “It’s about community building and to see Jamir shine…that’s everything.”
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