Trained in Rites of Passage, Now They’re Training Black Male Youth


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By Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware, Word in Black

The Baltimore Rites of Passage Initiative has been hard at work raising up a cohort of 16 men who will, in turn, mentor Black male youth ages 11-13.

Members of Baltimore Rites of Passage Initiative pose for a photo while being honored for their dedication to mentorship on April 13, 2024 (Mentorship Maryland).

It’s no secret that America has long promoted a narrative of inferiority about Black boys and men. It’s a steady drip of poison that parents, caregivers, and community members have to counteract vigilantly. And that’s where rites of passage programs — rituals that transition a person from an old way of being and thinking to a new, more mature, and advanced state  — make a difference.

Indeed, in Baltimore, the Baltimore Rites of Passage Initiative has been hard at work raising up a cohort of 16 men who will, in turn, mentor Black male youth ages 11-13.

BROPI is an innovative, multigenerational model, which empowers Black men to embrace positive masculinity and expand their capacity to engage with adolescent Black male youth effectively. The program aims to bolster the ranks of highly skilled Black men equipped to address the pressing challenges confronting Black male youth.

“We’ll talk to them about who we are, about our African connections and traditions, and about how these ties and traditions became severed during slavery,” says David Miller, the co-leader of the program. 

At an event on April 13, the initiative, in partnership with MENTOR Maryland/DC, honored the hard work of these 16 men, along with family members and community leaders. These 16 men spent six months being trained in every aspect of life — physical, mental, and spiritual — to be mentors and examples.


The men, ranging in age from 24 to 60 and coming from various youth-serving organizations across the city, immersed themselves in sessions focusing on redefining manhood, combating toxic masculinity, delving into African/African American history and culture, and adopting African-centered best practices for engaging Black male youth. 

Their program of preparation also addressed mental health needs, suicide prevention, anger management, and decision-making.

Continue the article here.

View our portraiture of resistance exhibit by Ras Corey Ameen.

Read how young Black men in Philadelphia are bettering their city.

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