Since the 1970’s when the student population at Dorsey High School became majority Black, this outstanding learning institution has consistently provided a supportive climate and atmosphere for Black students. Many Alumni and Parents describe the climate and school spirit at Dorsey as being similar to the climate at an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) Black Male Students who face certain specific challenges in the educational system and in society as a whole, have advocates and mentors throughout the staff and faculty on campus.
One specific teacher / mentor who is making a difference in the Dorsey High School community is Mr. Darryl McKellar. McKellar has been an English teacher in LAUSD for over 20 years, and has been at Dorsey for ten of those years. McKellar is the creator of a support group called the YBMG or Young Black Men’s Group. McKellar stated “As a male teacher of color, I feel compelled to assist those students who look like me and come from similar backgrounds. Single parent households, growing up in the inner-city, lack of mentorship/guidance etc. I have been given a unique opportunity to be an educator of all students, however, I rarely see students who look like me receiving the extra assistance needed to be successful in the classroom and beyond. I have witnessed black boys get passed over and treated as “less than” time and time again within the educational system. So, 11 years ago while teaching at Washington High School, I started mentoring Young Black Men as a means to uplift, inspire, and support this underrepresented demographic.”
The YBMG meets once a week during lunchtime in McKellar’s classroom to discuss, troubleshoot, and analyze current issues that plague the Black community and come up with potential solutions to those problems. During weekly meetings, mentees are expected to share their ideas and perspectives to develop a deeper understanding of how to navigate effectively in the real world. Mentees are expected to offer varying perspectives and ask thought provoking questions that promote self-awareness, and a sense of responsibility and purpose.
“By developing a village mindset, and awareness of their true calling from the ancestors, it is my objective to continuously assist in their maturation as Young Black Men. I believe that mentoring and constant encouragement builds the self esteem of our boys as well as helping them to develop into well rounded and responsible men. This is something I haven’t seen take place in my 23 years of being in education,” said McKellar.
Some of the recent topics of discussion have been; Kyrie Irving and the concept of buck breaking, the importance of taking responsibility for your actions, cell phone dependency, the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, giving thanks and being a valuable member of your family / household, choosing the right friends, why education is important and reciprocity and servicing others as you want to be served.
Ashton Johnson, a 10th Grade Student who is a member of the YBMG stated that the organization has helped him to reflect on his purpose in life and what he has to offer to the world. “Mr. McKellar saw in me a kid who wanted to learn, a kid who wanted to thrive in life and he saw that I have something to give to this world,” said Johnson. Quran Turner an 11th Grade student / athlete stated: “the YBMG allows me to meet other teens who’s mindset aligns with mine. We speak on topics that aren’t discussed amongst friends on a day to day basis. The energy in the room is always positive and I always feel good after I leave. I get to build friendships and get knowledge from adults.” Bryst Mitchell, a senior, reflected “ The Black Man’s group has been fun. I don’t really speak that much but in this group I enjoy talking to other people about problems in the world or in the Black community. It’s a very nice and friendly environment.”
McKellar reflected: “The purpose and origin of this group was established as means to develop the socio-emotional understanding of adolescent young men of color. As my mentor taught me how to be self-aware, purpose driven, and confident, I am expected to teach these same skills to the next generation. By promoting self-esteem and the importance of living up to their potential, this groups primary purpose is to change the trajectory and stereotypes attached to Black men.”
The Dorsey High School community is proud of this organization and feels the benefit of it’s impact around the campus. The young men who participate show a sense of focus, consciousness, awareness, fellowship and self-love. We applaud and appreciate the efforts of Mr. McKellar and his students, and hope that this organization will continue to grow and develop, positively impacting the lives of our Black male students, thus uplifting the entire school community.