Black Tie Guys tour seven colleges in four days

Black Tie Guys tour seven colleges in four days

As the early morning sun casts its first rays over the Louisiana landscape, a sight unfolds that captures the essence of hope and ambition. An entourage of 40 inner-city youths, accompanied by their mentors, steps off vans onto the lush green campuses of eight Louisiana universities. This scene, part of the “Black Tie Guys College Tour”, is not just a visit; it’s a voyage of discovery, aspirations, and potential.

The Black Tie Guys, a group of elementary and junior high school students, embarked on a spring break unlike any other, touring universities including Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Tulane University, Dillard University, Louisiana State University, and Southern University.

Though the colleges aren’t recruiting these young minds just yet, the seeds of future scholarship offers and academic pursuits are being sown.

The College Dream

Roosevelt Wright, Jr., the director of the Black Tie Guys, highlights a troubling narrative urban youths often face, being told that college might not be for everyone.

“What they hear most is ‘everybody does not go to college’ and many focus on a trade instead,” Wright said.

This tour aims to dismantle that narrative, opening their eyes to the possibilities of what higher education can offer. It’s about challenging preconceived notions and igniting the flame of ambition within these young men.

College Tour

Armed with study guides and a thirst for knowledge, the youths delved into the essence of college life. Questions about costs, campus activities, and the purpose of higher education were met with enthusiasm by university representatives. By night, reflections filled their journals, pondering over gift packs from the universities and the day’s learnings.

For Julius Brown, a bright 5th grader with dreams of becoming a scientist, Tulane University’s science and medical programs caught his eye. Jackson Hart, a talented drummer, found a potential future in Southern University’s music program. Brandon Collins, already an honor student, dreams of following in his parents’ footsteps at Southern University, his loyalty showcased during the Bayou Classic’s spirited rivalry.

Support System

The Black Tie Guys program is more than just tours and talks; it’s a comprehensive support system that prepares these young men for academic success and personal growth. From providing personal tutors to offering resume-building activities, the program ensures that participants are not only college-ready but life-ready.

“If a young man stays in our program until graduation, he will be college-ready, even if he chooses not to go. He will have an 18 or higher on the ACT and a 1050 on the SAT. Couple that with 100 hours of community service, a networking portfolio of at least 50 people who know and will reference him, and leadership experience, and a boy from a low-income family has a chance…he can see himself attending one of these universities,” Wright said.

A Path and a Plan

Roosevelt Wright’s vision is clear: to help these young men see themselves in places they’ve never imagined, from university halls to leading roles in their communities and beyond. With a rigorous preparation path that includes standardized test readiness, community service, networking, and leadership experiences, the program aims to level the playing field for boys from low-income families.

“It’s important that young men have a dream and be busy pursuing that dream, rather than using violence and planning ways to commit crimes. What we are trying to do is to help them dream,” Wright said.

45 years, 3,500 boys

Sponsored by Tab-N-Action, Inc., the Black Tie Guys program has evolved through various names since 1979, including “The Top Gun Leadership Academy, Time Travelers, and even a charter school called “Excellence Academy.” Regardless of the name, the program has maintained its core mission of empowering youth.

Recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of America’s top youth programs, it has touched the lives of over 3,500 boys and 450 girls, fostering a legacy of excellence and resilience.

As the program continues, supported by the Ouachita Parish Police Jury and the State of Louisiana, the impact of the Black Tie Guys extends beyond the individual. It’s a testament to the power of mentorship, community support, and the unwavering belief that every child, regardless of background, has the potential to achieve greatness. The journey of the Black Tie Guys is not just about visiting colleges; it’s about envisioning a future where dreams are within reach, and ambition knows no bounds.

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