By Ebone’ Parks
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham City Councilman Steven Hoyt believes that it is important to have dialogue with fathers, sons and daughters to help them become productive citizens.
Hoyt’s “Man Up” annual breakfast provides an avenue to have candid discussions about what it means to be responsible in the community, to be involved, volunteer and, most importantly, what it means to have a father figure in your life.
“You have to decide how you’re going to impact the lives of young folks, and I believe that Man Up gives us that opportunity,” Hoyt said.
The breakfast focused on real world situations such as dressing for corporate America and how to respond to authority, the councilor said.
Art Franklin, a Birmingham news anchor, spoke at this year’s event about growing up in Detroit, losing two nephews to gun violence. Hoyt can relate, he too lost a nephew to gun violence.
“How do we save lives?” Hoyt said, “We have to spend some time teaching young folks how to respond to police authority.”
Man Up derived from Hoyt’s community program, “Party with a Purpose,” which is a day of empowerment, provides assistance in education, jobs and health and wellness. The program also offers scholarships to rising college students, and internships that allow participants to see how government works.
“We hope that we can be a mentor to them, that we forge these long-lasting relationships that helps guide them through society,” said Hoyt, of the young men he’s trying to reach.
Growing up, Hoyt was too influenced by many men in his life, referring to his upbringing as a “village effect.” Growing up in public housing with a single parent, he learned work ethic at an early age.
Hoyt said he wasn’t a “slacker”; he had to learn how to work and be accountable.
“There were many men who took the time to teach me … I learned how to be committed to something larger than yourself — and that’s to the church and God,” said Hoyt, pastor of the Mount Carmel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Adamsville.
The breakfast event has gained positive reviews from the community and Hoyt hopes that it will grow.
“I’m most proud of the fact that when you can get men and boys in the same room and they begin to inspire each other . . . young people are hungry for the presence of a man in their lives who can have a positive influence on them. They get a sense of how necessary they are as a man,” Hoyt said.