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Chicago Leaders Mentoring Young African-Americans

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Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – On the day we celebrate the life of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., some ask where are today’s leaders?

CBS 2′s Jim Williams introduces to a couple of Chicagoans who are offering effective and selfless leadership in their own way.

They are not elected officials or ministers with long ties to the civil rights community, but Kelly Fair and Dwayne Bryant are indeed leaders, heading groups that started small.

Fair says she started out with two girls at my first meeting and now, “we’ve worked a little more than 600 girls in the last four years.”

Fair leads Polished Pebbles, a mentoring program. Bryant is doing the same through his organization, InnerVision International.

On this King holiday, they see the struggles. Asked what Dr. King would say about young African-American men and women today, Bryant said, “Honestly, I think King would be hurt.”

Hurt by the despair in many black communities with crime, high unemployment and poor education.

But Bryant and Fair are hands on leaders, going into some schools where only half the kids graduate.

“We graduated 77 percent in the first year, 81 percent in the second year because we had educated intelligent folk who looked like them, grew up like them, talked like them,” said Bryant. “They went to college, they graduated, they’re doing well.”

Their approach may be personal, one-on-one, but Dwayne Bryant and Kelly Fair see a philosophy embraced by civil rights movement.

“It may have been one or two specific leaders, but it was definitely a community effort that involved everybody,” said Fair.

Kelly Fair and Dwayne Bryant both insist mentors for African American children can come from all walks of life, even if they are not parents or if they’re not themselves black.

They say consistency showing up day after day or week after week is really what’s important.

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