Sep 24, 2010

Since the scandal broke surrounding Bishop Eddie Long and his Longfellows Youth Academy, I decided to do a little research and learn more about the academy.  The little that I've read about the program has definitely left me impressed.  I can see why any single mother would want to get her son(s) involved in such a program.  It is a program that is geared towards bringing young boys from boyhood into 'Christian' manhood.  Now I have absolutely no problem with the religious slant.  This is a program provided by the church so of course religious tenements are expected to be factors in the curriculum.  Besides, I think we have a lot of wayward young boys out there who are in serious need of male leadership in their lives. 
I was most impress with the emphasis on education and financial literacy in the program.  There are four program levels:
1. Sons
2. Rough Riders
3. Gladiators
4. Ishmen
Each level has Completion Standards.
Here is what the AJC is saying about the program:

The mentoring program, which boasts a 100 percent high school graduation rate for its participants and a curriculum that promotes sexual purity and physical fitness, is tailored to boys like Jamal Parris, who was 14 when he joined, and Anthony Flagg, 16 when he allegedly became one of Long's "spiritual sons."

Parris, who claims the bishop said "he would protect him and never let another man hurt him," and Flagg were named in two of the civil suits accusing Long of sexual coercion. They allege he positioned himself as the father figure both teens lacked.

"Most men, and most boys growing up these days, have no man to guide them in their journey to becoming a man," according to the LongFellows site. "This has destroyed many of our youth."

Long's accusers say he exploited that relationship and used the Bible to rationalize sexual encounters. But other graduates of the program, tailored for boys ages 13 to 18, say LongFellows helped turn their lives around.

The bishop was actively involved in the program, serving as mentor to many of its members. According to LongFellows director Marcus Hughes' bio on the academy's site, Long was like a "spiritual father" to the Morehouse College graduate, who has been the director since 2005. Hughes has not answered calls requesting comment.

If you know of anyone who went through the Longfellows program please let me.  I would love to talk to them and get their prospective on the program and the scandal surrounding it.


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