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Fifty pioneer African American and progressive male leaders were recognized Nov. 19
Real Men Cook co-founder Yvette Moyo Gillard directs “Giving Boys the Best Possible Start in Life” events in six U.S. cities

CHICAGO— Fifty pioneer African American and progressive male leaders were recognized Nov. 19 by the next generation of male leaders who are picking up the mantles during an International Men’s Day forum at Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA). The program offered fresh perspectives and solutions to many of the community’s challenges during three panel discussions and one presentation on such issues as healthy life choices, interactive public education and the need to nurture, honor and raise up Black men and boys.

The program was an extension of an initiative launched by Real Men Charities, Inc., on Father’s Day 2011 in connection with “Strong Fathers, Strong Families” White House fatherhood campaign. Under the theme, “Giving boys the best possible start in life,” the opening session of the International Men’s Day observance was moderated by WVON morning talk radio personality Matt McGill.

“International Men’s Day affirms the value of men in the lives of children, our families and our community,” observed pioneer honoree Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project. “We cannot solve any of our problems unless men are at the forefront of solutions, especially in the African American community. We must reengineer what it means to be a Black man.”
The program wrapped around the school’s Community Open House and complimented the vision of Principal Douglas L. Maclin and his administration of becoming a vibrant hub of community activity. Their theme, "A beautiful new day at the new CVCA," and the Real Men Charities, Inc., collaboration attracted hundreds of youth, community families and Chicagoans who also attended and participated in the Men’s Day program.

An added attraction was the serving of healthy lunches by Real Men Charities, Inc., forwarding their healthy families and communities mission, lead by Chef Curtis Drane and Real Men Charities Associate Executive Director Gerald Frazier.
Founded in 1999 in Trinidad, International Men’s Day is recognized by the United Nations and observed in more than 50 countries. The free event, in partnership with CVCA, was produced by Real Men Cook® co-founder Yvette Moyo Gillard, who leads the 22-year-old fatherhood movement that is advanced daily by Real Men Charities, Inc. She was assisted in the program planning and management by Javin Foreman, vice president of Power of Purpose Youth Services and Rael H. Jackson, marketer and principal at Brand Rally.

“This is a real opportunity to bring even more attention to the future of our boys and the importance of fatherhood and mentoring,” said Moyo Gillard. “Real Men Charities, Inc., programming and mentoring continues to bridge the gap, recognizing our stalwart male leaders who are still working and have passed on knowledge, wisdom, guidance and tradition to a new generation of males, committed young fathers and leaders with case study examples of solutions.”
Fifty male pioneers and long-time warriors were recognized as “Pillars in the Foundation of the Responsible Fatherhood Movement.” Many honorees came in the spirit of mutual respect to hear solution strategies from a new generation of younger men. Such honorees included noted psychiatrist Dr. Carl Bell, educator and author Dr. Michael James, attorney Lawrence E. Kennon, Fathers Who Care leader Rev. Walter Jones, Chicago Public Schools Program Manager of Parental Engagement and Youth Outreach Lafayette Ford, Real Men Core Group leader Chaga Walton, Assistant Commissioner of City of Chicago Department of Public Health and Thapelo Institute leader Joseph Harrington, retired educator, coach, youth advocate and mentor J. Walter Smith, and sociologist Dr. Joseph Strickland,

Panelists, all men under age 50, included Hip Hop Political Involvement activist and educator T.J. Crawford, committed father and communicator Carl West, Cease Fire CEO and violence prevention expert Tio Hardiman, poet and citizen advocate Raymond Richard and Greater Englewood Urban Agricultural Task Force Director Ray Thompson.
The keynote speaker, Erwin McEwen, former Dept. of Children & Family Services (DCFS) director and currently Casey Family Services Fellow, provided new insight and perspectives on how to raise boys to give them the Best Possible Start in Life. For a full list of Pillars, program panels and participants, information about upcoming fatherhood and family health forums, or to make a donation to the nonprofit, Real Men Charities, Inc, visit

Real Men Charities International Men's Day Press Release