Published On: Mon, May 9th, 2016

FAU Students Promote Servitude, Leadership

By: Shanae Hardy

It’s a deserted Wednesday night on the campus of Florida Atlantic University. And on the cusp of finals week, members of Progressive Black Men are gathered like a tightly-knit family brainstorming how to better serve the community.

“I just want to promote humanitarianism,” said Justin Torres, a senior psychology major and the new president of PBM. “What we’re doing is great but we can always reach someone else.”

The nonprofit Progressive Black Men, Inc., established on campus in 2012, is one of the newest chapters in the national organization, which was founded at Florida State University in 1989.

Their mission is to eradicate the stigma placed on young African-American males through community service and leadership.

The 40-member chapter, in April, won Chapter of the Year over 10 others at the organization’s national conference in Atlanta. They earned more than 1,000 community service hours, resulting in the Community Service Award along with five other recognitions.

“We have to be that example through our leadership. It’s not just talking about it but being about it,” Torres, 20, said.

Under the leadership of Jordon Edwards, the previous PBM president, the organization expand into the historic Peary City neighborhood.

“One thing I was big on was Pearl City. It was the first African-American community built in Boca Raton,” Edwards said. “We hadn’t done anything there in so long.”

Together, the brothers, as they call themselves, infiltrated the small historic community. They cleared trash from the streets, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, motivated the youth about education, and helped the city with its Centennial celebration.

Instead of lounging around South Beach for spring break in March, members of PBM spent the week on the streets of Orlando and downtown Tampa feeding the homeless.

They partnered with their counterparts from the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida to volunteer at food banks and give out food to the needy.

Halston Sharmon, a junior management information system major, recalled the day he joined PBM as a timid college student.

“It was hard for me to go into a restaurant and give my order,” Sharmon, 21, said. “They realized that about me and saw my weakness right away.”

Tae Edmonds, one of the founding members of FAU’s PBM chapter, encouraged Sharmon to take random selfies in the breezeway with other students. Eventually Sharmon, not only overcame his fear of speaking, but became one of the presidents for PBM and the Black Student Union.

“PBM put that fire in me,” he said. “I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.”

Next school year, the organization plans to continue its staple event, a clothing drive for Liberia; the Blazer and the Arts, and Power to the People, an initiative to promote voting among college students.

For these brothers, who wear green and black suits on Wednesdays to distinguish themselves, their bond will only become tighter as they nurture each other into influential black leaders.

“You see the power when black men work together,” Sharmon said. “That’s the most special thing about PBM. I took 40 strangers and made them my family.”

 

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