Jalen Kennedy, a 7th grade honor student at Morehouse Magnet and national spokesperson for 'Students Against The School-to-Prison Pipeline,' delivered a dynamic powerpoint presentation to a packed auditorium at Colorado College as the opening speaker for the 11th Annual Educating Children of Color Summit in Colorado Springs, CO on January 13.
A year after competing in the 2017 Morehouse Magnet Social Studies Fair, the Northeast Louisiana Region 3 Social Studies Fair and the Louisiana State Social Studies Fair , where he won 1st place in his category at his school and regional competitions, Jalen is still being invited to present his research project, "School-to-Prison Pipeline: The New System of Jim Crow," to audiences throughout the country.
Jalen became a national sensation in 2017 when his social studies project went viral on social media; generating over 1 million views and over 100,000 shares on facebook and being a feature story of nationally syndicated radio host D. L. Hugley. His story captured the attention of Colorado Springs - El Paso County Court Judge and Chairperson of the Educating Children of Color Summit, Regina Walter, and she extended an invitation to Jalen’s parents for him to be the opening speaker for the 2018 ECOC Summit.
Jalen made his insightful presentation to over 450 professional educators, attorneys, judges, social workers, business owners and parents, and received a standing ovation.
At a time when so much media attention is focused on the self-inflicted violence, police violence, mass incarceration, domestic violence and unemployment of African-American males, it is refreshing to learn about an enlightened young African-American male who is generating positive publicity for himself, his family and his hometown of Bastrop, and is making a substantive impact on the lives of melanated youth in Louisiana and throughout America. Jalen is a great example of what Donny Hathaway envisioned when he recorded his rendition of the 1969 Civil Rights hit song, 'To Be Young, Gifted and Black.' Hathaway envisioned an America where young, intelligent and beautiful Black children like Jalen would rise up and let their voices, talents and intellect be showcased for the world to see. I believe the spirit of Donny Hathaway is beaming with joy and happiness knowing that his vision lives on in the hearts, minds, souls and talents of dynamic African-American children like Jalen Kennedy. My, my, my – what a blessing to be 'Young, Gifted and Black.'