Black History Month: Men of Courage host program connecting youth with Black professionals

On this final weekend of Black History Month, youth between the ages of 12 and 18 had the chance to connect with a panel of black male professionals in Philadelphia.

The nonprofit mentoring program Men of Courage hosted the event called Black History Now at Parkway Northwest High School in Germantown.

More than 100 youth signed up to attend the event and many had the chance to ask questions directly to the panel.

"One of the biggest barriers with young men is they want to be successful, but they don’t know how to get there, so having real life examples gives them that hope to be the stride towards their career goals as well, but also expose them to career goals they may never have thought of," said Taj Murdock, CEO & Executive Director of Men of Courage Mentoring Program.

The panel of professionals featured Philadelphia Eagles Linebacker Nakobe Dean, Grammy Award winning Artist and Songwriter Ab Liva, a Philadelphia firefighter, realtor, financial expert and more.

Ab Liva grew up in North Philly and encourages young men to believe in themselves.

"I won a Grammy a few years ago writing for Kanye West. I work with Pharrell, Dr. Dre, a lot of notable people, but coming from our background, we didn’t know that these heights could be reached. But I just believed in myself and worked hard and I was able to see them," said Ab Liva. "My mom raised me to believe that if you put your heart in it, pray and work hard then you can achieve anything."

Dean said he believes in giving back to the younger generation and wants to emphasize knowing your identity outside of your job.

"First thing you should say when somebody asks who you are probably shouldn’t be oh, I’m a football player. It should probably be I’m a good man," said Dean. "Five years ago, I was 18, it’s like me being able to talk to them, I know exactly what they’re going through in this day and age."

The panel certainly left an impression on the students.

"It inspires me, because I can do that too if I put my mind to it, and I just keep going and believe in what I can do," said Andre Carter.

"I can show them that I truly do have a purpose in life, seeing how all these other Black men have finally found their purpose in life motivates me to find mine," said Mahaj Brown.