By ARIEL BAILEY
The Beyond the Bricks Project is a grassroots organization that works with young African- American males. Based out of Harlem, New York, it has partnerships with several schools including Georgia State University.
Washington Keon Media created the Beyond the Bricks Project in 2009. The project uses media literacy to help change the image of young black males and challenge participants to be active leaders in their communities.
The young men who participate in Georgia State’s program are both traditional and non-traditional students. The young men go through five weeks of training where they learn about media literacy and how to use it to tell their stories.
After the training, the men begin working on their individual film productions.
“My high school mentor, Chuck, told me about the program and invited me to Georgia State University to check it out,” said Macio Thumpkins, who has been a part of Beyond the Bricks since 2012. “So I went down and I liked it … It was a nice fit for me.”
Thumpkins was born and raised in Atlanta. He comes from the English Avenue Community also known as The Bluff.
His film focused on his community and the challenges he faced growing up in a neighborhood full of crime.
Since becoming a part of the Beyond the Bricks Project, Thumpkins has started his own organization called Lights, Camera, Action. It is a mentorship program for the youth in his community.
“I just want to take the young people to other communities so they can dream. I want them to know that there is more in this world than all the negativity around them.”
Thumpkins also spends time going to schools throughout the city to motivate and help educate the youth.
Instructor Garfield Bright received his Masters in African-American Studies at Georgia State. He is happy to be a part of a program that is helping change and shape the image of young black males. It hurts him to see young men failing to do more with their lives. For him the opportunity has been more than rewarding.
“As a mentor I am here to not only educate but challenge these young black men to self-reflect and figure out how they can become leaders and positive role models for the future.”
Studies show that African-American males are more likely to spend time in a detention center or jail than any other race.
For more information about the Beyond the Bricks Project, visit: http://www.beyondthebricksproject.com