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Minister dedicates life to mentoring young black men

Outside Emmanuel Baptist Church.

Reaching today’s youth is a challenge, especially considering all of the outside forces that are vying for their attention.

Rogers W. Jackson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church at 8301 S. Damen Ave., and the author of several books that encourage and offer guidance to men has worked diligently over the years to inform men in Chicago about their purpose in life. He mentors men at his church.

“My basic calling is to help men do something. I believe that every man, every young man, every youth, every senior adult man, has a something that God brought them into the world to do,” said Jackson.  “And the challenge is to help that man, that boy, that youth or that senior man, see what God has put in them, to bless, to enlarge and to strengthen the world.”

Photo by Theo Daniels
Photo by Theo Daniels

Jackson a graduate of Bishop College in Texas, relocated when he felt called to Chicago.

“He’s a very smart man, very well educated and he has life experience,” said Barry James, Jr. co-owner of Island Furs, located near the church.

“I think he’s the type of guy that you can go to when you feel like you need some advice on the challenges of life. He seems to be willing and open to share that information,” said James.

One of Jackson’s aims is to establish mentorship programs that help engage young black men in critical thinking and spiritual growth. He wants to create workshops and seminars that offer training he believes that  men need to make a significant impact in the lives of others.

“I start basically with the church, because men and boys who come to the church obviously have a vision of God,” Jackson said.

He explained involvement with religion can bring young black men a sense of concern for others and insight on how to strengthen their families.

“Pastor Jackson is very faithful, very committed, and he is jovial,” said his wife, Onie Jackson, the leader of the women’s ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church.  “He has a heart for developing young men for God because there are so many young people, men in particular who don’t know what to do with their life at this point. And he just has such a passion to kind of help them, guide them along, if they will allow him to.”

Jackson plans on creating mini mentorship programs through the church to work with young black men ranging from high school level up to freshmen and sophomore college students.

“I believe in Chicago, but I believe that I can offer a sense of mentorship through film, and movies, of persons who have been mentored by a wiser man,” said Jackson. “That is one way young boys and young adults, since media is a method of visual assessment that could be used as a strategy in the elementary and high school by way of just using that as conversation or discussion.”

Jackson said the main concern of the program would be assistance in the spiritual growth of these men and acknowledged that while some organizations may meet once in a month, the church meets 52 times a year. During the available time frame, he would have the young men partner up with a church or a community of faith that can then follow up with that man throughout the year.

“My thing is more inspiration, encouragement and vision and mission. I can get you started, but it’s up to the individual and others—if it’s a church, pastor, or congregation of preachers can mentor people,” said Jackson.

“Because the culture kind of makes young black men and boys feel as though they are nothing, basically they carry that psychological thing with them in[to] a classroom,” he added.

There are other factors that also add to the fear that exists even at the college level as a result of being intimated by an insurmountable task such as reading multiple college level textbooks in one course and juggling other equally demanding classes.

“I would use James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and other writers to point out the social impact on the black men ego. If I was in a college, I would find an easy book to read, say “Eight Men, ” said Jackson.  That’s the type of level of mentorship that I’m talking about.”

Jackson wants to set up workshops where male teachers are taught how to inspire the black males on college campuses. “I know the average man or woman working a job, you do the job you leave,” he added. “In relations as what’s happening to us in regards to as a culture of black people, we have to go an extra mile.”

A possible site for mentorship programs.
Emmanuel (2)
Map showing location of the mentoring site.

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