Libraries Responding to the Needs of African American Male Youth

Did you know that African American male youth are disproportionately affected by failing schools and a lack of quality educational opportunities?’  Did you know that consequently, their life outcomes and opportunities are disproportionately constrained compared to their peers in the dominant white cultural group?

In 2010 the Council of the Great City ‘ Schools released a report entitled A Call for Change: The Social and Educational Factors Contributing to the Outcomes of Black Males in Urban Schools which calls the achievement gap and the subsequent life gap for African-American males a “national catastrophe. ” In response to this, the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the School of Library and Information Science at North Carolina Central University hosted the summit, “‘ Building a Bridge to Literacy for African-American Male Youth: A Call to Action for the Library Community” in June, 2012. The summit, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, brought members of the library community together with stakeholders from other-liked minded organizations to consider the role libraries can play in improving educational opportunities for African American male youth.

A report summarizing the key summit outcomes can be found at’ http://bridgetolit.web.unc.edu/?page_id=12. ‘ The report is intended to be a call to action for the library community—to provide the impetus for libraries to join this important conversation and to become an integral part of a nationwide network working to address the educational needs of African American male youth.’  It offers recommendations for how the library community can actively address the literacy needs of African-American male youth and encourages collaboration among the library community, the education community, and other local, state, and national agencies to address the achievement gap that exists.

We hope the report will benefit and inform the work of the many organizations and individuals that are working to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for African American male youth. Other constructive ideas and recommendations are welcome and will be added to the project website: http://bridgetolit.web.unc.edu/.’  Please forward suggestions to smhughes@email.unc.edu

We also hope the report will spur’ you to action.’  As Chancellor Charlie Nelms, North Carolina Central University, noted during the summit, “If we have the will, we can create the way.’  Use your voices to elevate this issue so that people simply cannot ignore it.”

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