Putnam City High School student starts club to promote leadership among young minority males

United Voice
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two years ago, Kel Pinkston was a freshman at Putnam City High School.

He says he walked through the doors and saw a need.

“One thing that kills me, when I go into my junior leadership class, I’m the only black male in there and it’s a diverse class. There’s all types of people, but I’m the only black male,” he said. “I see a lot of kids that look like me that [are] getting suspended, expelled, kicked out of organizations, and I know that they are leaders. They can lead on the football field, on the basketball team, even at home leading their families.”

So, he had the idea to start a school club.

“When I was talking to someone, they said they had an organization similar and they just had three to five people, so I was thinking we’ll start off small and hopefully we’ll grow, and now everybody wants to join,” said Pinkston.

He says he wanted to give a better representation of what leadership is for minority males at school.

It wasn’t easy getting it off the ground.

Pinkston reached out to teachers and collected $1,500 in donations to help get the club up and running.

“It’s like having a newborn,” said sponsor and chemistry teacher Tenishea Lewis, “cause you see this person and you see what their potential is. They don’t see it yet, but you see it, so when they ask you something and you see where they wanna go with it, it’s like, yeah, I want to support you.”

Perhaps one of Pinkston’s most profound decisions turned out to be the club’s name: “Brothers of Excellence.”

“I felt like it was important that we had the ‘brothers’ in the name because it gives a sense of unity so we all come together, we can share our struggles without being judged,” he said.

“It means unity, but they also put that excellence in there that shows they’re striving for something more than they already have” added Lewis.

The group is now 28 members strong.

They meet every Wednesday in a homeroom-style class.

They’ve been visited by minority leaders, and had open forums to ask questions freely.

“They want to better themselves. They see what I see, and they have a vision of their own so they want to try to be a part of this,” said Pinkston.

It’s still growing and the goal is to include all their peers, not just minorities.

“I feel like everybody can help, anybody of any ethnic background, they can put their input in and they can tell what they see, but we can also share what our culture is and the things we go through that way they gain empathy as well,” Pinkston told News 4.

“By anyone coming in and hearing, oh, I didn’t think about that way, here’s my part, here’s my role, here’s what I can do to be a brother,” added Lewis.

The group is headed to a summit soon.

Their goal is to volunteer at elementary schools and play basketball with kids or read with them.

To learn more about their group, visit this website.

If you would like to help, you can donate here.

United Voice mission statement: A coalition of Oklahoma’s media outlets, brought together in a united voice to promote a healthy dialogue on race.

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