Melvin Thomas, left, Marcell Stargetti, Anthony Dennis, Roashon Wilson, and James McCullough walk arm and arm through the campus of California State University  East Bay, Friday May 17,  2013,  in Hayward, Calif. (Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle)
Melvin Thomas, left, Marcell Stargetti, Anthony Dennis, Roashon Wilson, and James McCullough walk arm and arm through the campus of California State University East Bay, Friday May 17, 2013, in Hayward, Calif. (Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle)

About the same number of African American boys graduate from Oakland public high schools college-ready as  get shot dead.

That’s from “Even Odds,” a three-part series appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle that documents efforts to address the daunting challenges faced by African American males in Oakland.

KQED is providing additional coverage of this issue tomorrow and Friday. KQED Public Radio is broadcasting reports Thursday at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Forum will devote a segment to topic Friday morning. There will be a report and panel discussion on the series on a special edition of This Week In Northern California at KQED Channel 9 at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. That show will be hosted by KQED’s Joshua Johnson.

The Chron describes its series this way:

African American boys in Oakland are more likely to miss school, be suspended, not graduate on time or be incarcerated than any other students.

Over the past decade, the number of African American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from its high schools ready to attend a state university.

Against this backdrop of failure and death, school officials became the first in the nation to create a department with the sole focus of helping African American males while sponsoring a charter school specifically for black boys.

Part 1 looks at the shocking statistics as well as real kids affected by the violence. Part 2 looks at classes offered specifically to black males in Oakland schools, focusing on their specific needs and ways to buck the odds. Part 3 will be published Sunday, August 25, and will focus on Oakland’s 100 Black Men Community School, an all-male public charter school created specifically to address issues facing black boys – including difficult family lives, street culture, community violence and lack of male role models outside professional sports and the music industry.

Oakland High School Manhood Development from San Francisco Chronicle on Vimeo.

Tiago Robinson, 42, knows his students. He grew up like many of them. He was 6 years old the first time he saw someone get shot. School was just a place to go, not a priority. As a teen, he was lured into the “dope game” and followed his family to the streets.”My dad’s side of the family is all criminals, from my aunties and my uncles,” he would tell his students. “My dad was in and out of jail.” So he knows the challenges his students face, the sleepless nights listening to nearby gunshots, the fear of a slow-moving car, the funerals for so many young men just like themselves.And so every morning as they arrive, he shakes their hands, taking stock of each one.”That handshake is going to tell me a lot about what’s going on in your life,” he said.

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