This Virginia-Based African American Culture Class Is Tapping Hope Into Youth

This Virginia-Based African American Culture Class Is Tapping Hope Into Youth

Total Action for Progress (TAP) is amplifying its mission of inspiring children and young adults by offering its life-changing African American culture class to the public in Virginia.

Roanoke has a long history of violence. Police have reportedly confirmed that many of the victims of gun-related aggravated assaults or homicides in 2022 are young adults or Black men. Local community leaders credit the devastating losses to a lack of community support and access to summer programs to keep students engaged.

While many programs are in gear, TAP offers educational programs for students who are enrolled in a public school in the Roanoke Valley or Alleghany Highlands. One of these ambitious efforts includes its introduction of the African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI) class in 2008. It was designed to encourage Black young men through to graduation.

Lateefah Trent, youth services and education manager at TAP, said high school dropouts are attributed to students’ belief that they won’t live to see past graduation, according to The Roanoke Times.

“They don’t feel like they’re going to really live past age of 21 or 25, or that they’re not going to amount anything, so ‘What’s the point?’” Trent said.

Roanoke’s Mack Malloy took the class three years in a row while attending William Fleming High School, per the news outlet. Now 19, he recounts his journey down a dark path until he discovered the value on the other side.

“I’ve been misled. I’ve been shot. I’ve been in gangs. I’ve been in blood. I did all that stuff,” Malloy said. “For me to make it out of that, it was kind of like a gift.”

In collaboration with the Gun Violence Prevention Commission, TAP is now offering the highly sought-after class free of charge at the Roanoke Higher Education Center, according to the organization’s website. From now until January 21, 2023, anyone 15 or over is invited every Saturday for empowering and interactive lessons in the following topics:

  • Meditation techniques and mindfulness practice
  • Community bonding
  • Critical thinking and leadership skills