2019 MBKGEN Summit
On Friday, November 1, 2019, youth organizing and adult allyship was growing in Benton Harbor during the annual MBKGEN Youth Summit, "Young, Political, Powerful."
Hosted by MBKGEN Benton Harbor and the S.H.A.R.P. Foundation, youth and their adult allies came from Benton Harbor schools as well as Flint, Lansing, and Kalamazoo to learn and engage in organizing, planting seeds for the community and electoral justice work ahead of us in 2020.
The day was fueled by inspiring speakers, artistic performers, and hands-on idea and strategy building for community transformation.
Benton Harbor Brownfield Redevelopment Authority
Commissioner MaryAlice Adams, City of Benton Harbor
One Love Global
The Mendel Center, Lake Michigan College
Mr. Bankole Thompson
Editor-in-Chief of The PuLSE Institute
Op-ed columnist for The Detroit News
Miss & Mr. Benton Harbor
Ms. Crystal Williams & Mr. Gregory Hill
Ms. Rukia Lumumba
Executive Director of People's Advocacy Institute
Commissioner MaryAlice Adams
City of Benton Harbor
MBKGEN Benton Harbor
Mr. Michael Smith, MBK Alliance
Ms. Angela Waters-Austin
CEO of One Love Global
MBKGEN Michigan Network
Chokwe Pitchford (facilitator), Uriah Baker, Rayonte Bell, Ray White, George Golliday
The Summit introduced Michigan leaders to the People’s Assembly organizing process, guided by Rukia Lumumba of the People’s Advocacy Institute, where youth set priorities and learn to mobilize peers, parents, elected officials, and other local leaders to make a difference in their communities.
People’s assemblies are a way for a group to discuss issues or make decisions collectively. To learn more about this process, the People's Assembly Movement handbook is a great place to get started. Assemblies model participatory democracy and help people generate ideas, gather feedback and make decisions.
In the afternoon, youth participated in an assembly to define their priorities for community transformation.
The adult assembly explored what youth organizing looks like and the resources needed to support it.
Connecting to OUr MBKGEN ROOTS
The MBKGEN Summit in Benton Harbor celebrated our statewide roots with support from the Obama Foundation.
In September 2014, former President Obama issued a challenge to cities, towns, counties and tribes across the country to become “MBK Communities” to enact sustainable change through policy, programs, and partnerships. The My Brother’s Keeper initiative and 3G Network in Lansing, MI were used as starting points to construct a plan for the Girls Equity Network in Michigan. The MBK coalition expanded to include targeted outreach to girls and young women of color in 2017.
In addition to welcoming words from Michael Smith of the national MBK Alliance, the letter to the right was written from President Obama to participants of the MBKGEN Benton Harbor Summit.