MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In 2016, Mayor Jim Strickland and the City of Memphis Administration needed a program that helps to build character, improve communication, and strengthen leadership skills for men.
Manhood University is a program created to inspire men to build up their community, create strong relationships, and find jobs.
The most recent promotion ceremony happened Saturday at New Sardis Baptist Church.
Strickland and his special assistant Ken Moody were among several leaders who congratulated the men on completing the six-week character building curriculum.
City officials said Manhood University could not be a success without partnerships with church leaders and other community organizations.
Shelby County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner said he attended the ceremony to show his support.
"This program will help all citizens of Memphis. You hear the testimonies of the young men who have gone through this program and it's only going to make our city and our county that much better," Bonner said.
The guest speaker at Saturday's ceremony was Larry Johnson, the brother of NBA great Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
He shared his powerful story of rising from the grips of a heroine addiction.
"I was in the dope house, and I overdosed, and they dragged me to the backyard and left me there. It was by the grace of God that my eyes opened back up," he said.
One graduate shared how the program is shaping his future.
"It helped me out in areas that I was weak in, that I needed to grow back in as a man, and staying positive is what this program is all about," John Taylor said.
He said it's an opportunity for any man committed to change.
"I'm very determined and I feel today that I'm a better person, a better man," he said.