My Brother’s Keeper organization gives back to Huntington youth

More stories from Michael Brown


Young men at Marshall University have come together to help local youth become better leaders.

My Brother’s Keeper brings young men from local high schools to campus to teach them about leadership, citizenship and education. My Brother’s Keeper consists of black men discussing issues they are facing themselves. Not only are these men meeting with students during the week but also duing the weekend for recreation.

“As a group of young black men, we want to enhance the way we think, change the way we act and uphold the community and Marshall as well,” said lead facilitator of My Brother’s Keeper Derek L. Robinson. “We’ve done many things to keep a good name in the community such as toy drives, food drives for the homeless and mentor eighth through 12th grade.”

Members of the organization said getting involved has not only given them the opportunity to help young men do things like work on their public speaking skills and discuss ways to reach their career and life goals, but even how to better manage social media. Young high school boys do not always know exactly how to manage things like social media, nor do they know they have control over what people do and do not see.

My Brother’s Keeper has become a safe zone for many members. Some members said before getting involved with the organization they found themselves feeling alone at Marshall University, but after joining, some said they felt they truly had friends and knew that others cared about their wellbeing.

“When I first came to Marshall, I was a loner and I stayed to myself,” said member Tony Jernigan. “I didn’t think there were brothers and sisters here on campus that were trying to get to the same place that I was trying to get to and who were interested in the same things that I was interested in, like bettering themselves and the community.”

“I want to better myself but I also want to one day open my own recreation center,” Jernigan said. “When I finally was introduced to the organization, we talked about things I wasn’t able to talk about. I was finally able to find others that shared my views. Sometimes, we as young black men going to a predominantly white institution, go through things that others don’t have to just deal with. Finding this group of brothers gave me someone to talk to. It let my voice be heard and I no longer felt as though I was the only one feeling a certain way.”

The organization was founded in 2008 by two young men, Ronald L. Jones and Maurice Kitchen who said they felt there was a need for an organization on campus where black men can come together and discuss issues they were facing at Marshall. My Brother’s Keeper aims to remove the daily excuses that were once their affirmation.

Most of the young men in My Brother’s Keeper are involved in The American Dream Movement. The American Dream Movement exists to make sure local young men are completing high school, going to college and getting a four-year degree, so they can go on to be what they want and do what they want to do.

The movement strives to have young men understand others have been in their position and not to feel as though there is some disconnect between the college men in My Brother’s Keeper and the local high school students. Group members said they are trying to be the people these young men don’t have.

“I don’t think I can pinpoint one moment exactly that would be my favorite part of being a member of MBK. I will say it’s the one place I can be completely myself,” said Trey Fitzpatrick. “I can come and talk to them about anything and be myself all the way. Its sad that you can’t be yourself with everyone these days, but with this group I’m able to do that. It has also just helped me build confidence and just talk to people and I’m grateful for that.”

My Brother’s Keeper is always looking for young men who would be able to bring something good to the group, as well as those who want to better themselves and the community.

The group meets for sessions every Tuesday and Thursday. Those interested can get more information from the African American Student Office located in Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center.

Michael Brown can be contacted at [email protected]