The Incarceration Crisis among African-American Boys and Men Addressed at Men’s Conference

by Frederick Jones
February 2016

Memorial UMC YouthThe theme of the 2nd Annual Just for Men Conference, held at Memorial UMC of High Point in August 2015, was Waking Up as Wiser Men of God. Memorial’s United Methodist Men (in partnership with the WNCC United Methodist Men) sponsored this event focused on the Incarceration Crisis and its devastating effect on African-Americans – especially boys and men.

Dr. Fred Allen, the Executive Director of SBC 21 (Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century) was the keynote speaker. The Rev. Charles Young served as the minister of music. The Rev. Dr. James Henderson was among the other speakers, along with Lacy Colon and Michael Young.

Lacy and Michael were arrested, sentenced and incarcerated for long periods of time. Lacy was in federal prison and Michael was in the Statesville County Correctional System. It was on the basis of their strong presentation that one of the teenage attendees, so shocked by the horrors being described, said: “Hey, from now on, I’m going to love being free! No one will call me a “jailbird”… No matter what I have to do to keep straight, I’m going to do it!”

The total enrollment for the event was 59, including teenage boys. Men from the following churches were represented: Memorial and St. Matthew’s UMCs (Northern Piedmont District); Brown’s Chapel UMC (Catawba Valley); St. Mark’s, Faith-St. Paul and Simpson-Gillespie UMCs (Metro); St. Homes-St. Andrew’s UMC (Yadkin Valley); and Cathedral of His Glory.

The successful conference ended on a high note as the youth presented an energetic skit with the title “No Way, No How! Breaking Out – Freedom is Fragile,” a spin-off of the lyrics of M.C. Hammer’s hit song “Can’t Touch This.”

Plans are presently underway for the 3rd Annual Just for Men Conference, to be held in 2016. For details contact Memorial UMC of High Point at 336 889-4501.

Frederick Jones is the principal organizer of the Just for Men Conference and a leader at Memorial UMC in High Point. He is the husband of the late Dr. Lillie Madison Jones.