Grand Valley State University

06/12/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/12/2024 20:42

Former 'Fab Five' member kicks off Black Boys and Men Symposium

Former 'Fab Five' member kicks off Black Boys and Men Symposium

BY Michele Coffill
Image credit - Photos by Kendra Stanley-Mills

Jun 12, 2024

Even given all the publicity the University of Michigan's "Fab Five" men's basketball team received on and off court, Jalen Rose said there was at least one fact that went unreported: when he made the Dean's List.

Rose kicked off the third annual Black Boys and Men SymposiumJune 12 with a keynote presentation before 400 people at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. Sponsored by the Division of Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, the symposium continues through June 14.

Jalen Rose speaks to an audience of 400 at the Black Boys and Men Symposium at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids.

"There was a lot of coverage of the exploits of the Fab Five," Rose said. "No one ever reported when I made the Dean's List. It became the narrative that people can make about you."

He likened himself to a rose that grows from concrete, saying his narrative is similar to that of many young Black men in Detroit today: living in a household often without heat, with a single mother who worked two jobs.

"I was the young man you all work with every day. I'm now 51," he said, referring to audience members. "You guys influenced me but probably wanted to put me in a headlock sometimes."

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, greets participants at the Amway Grand Plaza.

The symposium focuses on providing participants - educators, youth service workers, community leaders - with tools and strategies to help Black boys and men overcome systemic barriers and be successful.

In his welcome, B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said children in elementary schools can have great plans for their careers, but "life sometimes pushes them in another direction."

"We all deserve an opportunity to be successful," Truss said. "What can we learn here and take back to our communities that will keep those children on their career paths?"

After a 13-year NBA career, Rose turned his attention back to Detroit. He said his foundation has now provided 40 scholarships to Detroit Public School students to attend college. In 2011, he established, and now serves as president of, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit.

Students from Kalamazoo Public Schools stand on stage during the keynote presentation. Jalen Rose asked each student to talk about their plans after graduation.

Rose said he started JRLA, an open enrollment, tuition-free, public charter high school, with a class of 120 ninth graders. This week, the academy, a 9-16 grade model, will hold its 10th graduation ceremony.

"Fifteen years ago, there were lots of new schools opening in Detroit. What I noticed was they were all K-5, K-8. No one was opening a high school," he said.

The JRLA has a secondary education team that works with students to get them ready for college and serves as a resource after graduation. Rose said he and others at JRLA work to help change the narrative of their students.

"The first place kids find defeat is adults, whether it's their household, on their block, the people leading them," he said. "Lead from the front, encourage young people. Your influence will continue to be paramount. Our young boys and girls need you."

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