The Males Place’ In Charlotte Helps Mentor Boys Through Agriculture
A nonprofit group in Charlotte, N.C., employs a different approach to mentor Black boys from 12 to 18 years old.
According to WFAE, The Males Place, founded by Baba Reggie Singleton, empowers young boys by teaching them the skills that can assist them in helping their communities through agriculture. They are also taught the basic social skills and lessons on becoming men.
“Our focus is to socialize them, where we draw on time-honored traditions, our history, culture, and experience to properly develop and socialize them so they understand who they are,” Singleton said. “We use three major tenets: mentorship, agriculture, and social justice.”
Singleton shares experiences he had growing up, where he learned to do seasonal work. He started helping his family by picking and growing crops around 5 years old.
“The agriculture piece is not only addressing and ensuring that we have access to clean, healthy food but deeper concepts into being self-sufficient, solving problems, as well as being able to work side by side with young people in natural areas,” Singleton said.
Since starting in 1993, The Men’s Place has helped more than 3,000 young men. The initiative started as a Mecklenburg County Health Department reproductive clinic for men to reduce teen pregnancy in the Black community. After starting the program, Singleton realized it needed to address more than reproductive rates.
“A rising increase of Black-on-Black crime, the rising rate of unintended pregnancy, and the absence of fathers in the homes, in the lives of the young people,” he said.
“In order to truly impact these young people, we needed to be able to counteract some of those negative images and messages and modeling that our young people were seeing.”
The nonprofit organization has taken the boys to places like Charleston, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Ghana, and Cuba to learn about the Black experience in different parts of the world. Singleton plans on taking 20 of the boys back Ghana in June 2023.