MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - An institute named after civil rights activist Benjamin L. Hooks is looking to honoring and continue his legacy.
Hooks dedicated his time to fighting for civil rights advancement as the leader of the NAACP.
His namesake, The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, held a symposium on African American male achievement Wednesday.
"They have a positive contribution to make to the arts, society, to culture, to the economic development of Memphis and we cannot leave them behind," Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change Director Daphene McFerren said.
The event was only the first of a week of events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the organization.
McFerren said despite some progress for African American men socially and academically, more is needed.
This is especially true when one considers that, according to the institute, half of black men in Memphis between 16 and 24 are neither employed nor in school. McFerren said this number can be turned around.
"We have intensive coaching and mentoring focused on academic accomplishments, career success, financial success, also the tools needed to navigate through life," McFerren said.
She said these are tools that the institute will continue to foster over its next 20 years in hopes of closing the achievement gap for African American men.