Building Black: Members of The Emerging 100 Surprise Mentees on First Day of School

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By: Kelli Bennett

Early Wednesday morning a 15-second video clip filled social media timelines and GroupMe chats—a clip not of rap’s most recent battle or another account of police brutality, but of several black high school seniors of the B.E.S.T. Academy in Atlanta greeted by a group of well-dressed black men with friendly fist daps, pleasantries and well wishes as the teens arrived to their first day of school. 

What makes this display more inspiring for many is the organization behind this act of kindness, its program and mission.  The Emerging 100 of Atlanta (E 100), a young professional auxiliary group of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.,  organized yesterday’s warm welcome as a part of their continued mentoring program with B.E.S.T. Academy, an all-male academy with a mission to prepare students to enter into a 4-year institution of higher learning as they transform into the “B.E.S.T. Men.”

In typical “cool, high-schooler fashion,” the students didn’t say much on Wednesday but their smiles and facial expressions spoke plenty as they stepped off the bus and into the presence of their mentors and role models. This was more than a photo-op, but a promise to these students that “we (E 100 mentors) are in it for the long run,” said Joseph Wilson, current Emerging 100 parliamentarian.

According to Wilson, many of the students are from the West Side/Bankhead areas of Atlanta and are not exposed to many positive images of black men on a daily basis. The organization works to counter this reality with its “pipeline mentoring” belief, which emphasizes guiding those younger than oneself.  “We (E 100 members) are mentored by 100 Black Men of Atlanta and it’s always inspiring to be around them, these older black men who essentially run the city, and who take the time out of their day to help and mentor us. It’s only right and required of us to do the same,” Wilson said.

Every year, the men of E 100 are paired with one senior from the all-male academy in hopes of mentoring and helping to establish promising futures for them. They foster relationships through monthly events, which build awareness, college preparedness and overall bonding, as well as, individual lunch outings and extracurricular activities.

The buzz around the city, including a feature hosting V-103’s Top 8 at 8 radio countdown, increased the organization’s visibility but the impact and influence on their mentees and the leaders of the future is of most importance. This program’s success is reflected by the over 90 percent graduation and college attendance rate and numerous scholarship offerings, Wilson said.

Wilson and fellow E 100 members don’t take all of the credit. The organization applauds academy administrators/faculty, the teen’s parents and the teen’s desire to be the B.E.S.T. “They are really smart kids with great potential that just need help bringing it out and we hope to continue that success,” Wilson said.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear about this influential group of men and other Atlanta-based organizations charged with shaping the future of our youth. Check out the men of Emerging 100 at work with the B.E.S.T. Academy here.

Share with the #SweetCandorTV team more positive groups and events going on near you. We’d love to cover them!

Kelli Bennett is a freelance writer and editor recognized for her feature writing, business reporting, personal/business profiles and social media skills. She combines her passions for service and creativity with her inquisitive personality and writing ability. This equation ignited a yearning in Kelli to be the “Voice for the Unheard.” The excitement Kelli felt while writing her first feature remains with each story she writes.  She has been privileged to cover several stories for the Indiana Minority Business Magazine, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, Ball Bearings Magazine and numerous other publications. Kelli received her Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in Journalism from Ball State University in May 2013. When not investigating or constructing intriguing story angles, Kelli finds escape in music and serving her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Kelli will never neglect her first love: music. She has been honored to sing for the National Department of Defense and other community organizations.


  1. Doris

    August 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    This is awesome. Hope they take turns and check in on them from time to time.

  2. Gilda Suiter

    August 7, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I love this display of support. As the mother of 4 black males, it warms my heart to see our men take on this role in the lives of these young men. God’s continued grace and blessings over the mentors and the mentees.

  3. Tiffany

    August 7, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you for this awesome story. It moved me to tears to see young professional men believing in boys and wanting to do something to make sure they succeed.

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