members of Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and Success,
who founded the mentoring group in 1998, are serious about
encouraging U.Va. students to help African-American youths
in Charlottesville. They graduate this weekend, but their
organization will go on. From left: Ryan J. Wallace, Leslie
H. Williams Jr., Ryan F. Coleman-Ferebee, Aaron A. Lockhart,
Cameron D. Wadley, Marc K. Carroll and John T. Green III.
vision to give back to community will continue
By Katherine Jackson
of his pocket, fourth-year student Les Williams whipped out a
bright orange and blue Dr. Seuss hat. "I wore this on the
Lawn to encourage students to come to [the] 'Reflection on Complexion'
forum," said Williams, one of seven African-American students
who founded the group Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and
Success, which hosted the meeting several weeks ago.
by personal experiences and committed to volunteerism, he and
his friends launched BUCKS in 1998. They've given a priceless
opportunity to U.Va. students and younger African Americans --
a chance to make a difference.
graduating this weekend, the seven met with younger members of
the organization, whose number has reached about 100 and includes
women, to make sure their vision won't die after they leave town.
Young African-Americans in Charlottesville will continue to benefit
from their programs. Past projects have included tutoring, leading
racial discussions and helping high-school students prepare for
college. With financial support from the city, members tutored
youths in computer labs at three low-income housing complexes
said he is pleased that so many have embraced volunteerism as
a learning opportunity. Educating oneself also involves helping
to educate those less fortunate, he said. "I feel it's my
responsibility to excel and to give back to other black males."
founding member Ryan Coleman-Ferebee said it is important to participate
in solving social issues. "By participating, you find out
what you want to do in life."
the "Reflection on Complexion" forums, annual gatherings
to discuss racial issues, the BUCKS incorporated humor to ease
tension during frank discussions. Their creativity helped draw
more than 400 students of varying backgrounds to the forums. Because
they encouraged openness in a non-threatening environment, the
talks were a popular attraction, according to advisers who have
helped the group.
"This huge student gathering is one of the rare occasions
where many come together to discuss issues affecting us all,"
said Sylvia Terry, associate dean in the Office
of African-American Affairs. The forums have been a significant
contribution to the University, added Timothy C. Scott, associate
professor of engineering.
group's legacy could continue to grow in significant ways. With
support from the Alumni Association, the BUCKS are establishing
an endowment fund to help local African-American males attend
the University, Coleman-Ferebee said.
addition to Williams and Coleman-Ferebee, the founding members
of BUCKS are: Marc K. Carroll, John T. Green III, Aaron A. Lockhart,
Cameron D. Wadley and Ryan J. Wallace.
press release on Seven
Students Who Launched a Program to Help Black Youths Will Graduate
in May: Vision to Continue