Claflin University to Host Fifth Annual Black Male Symposium April 17

Apr 16, 2015

Claflin University will explore “Black Male Achievement: Finding Success Right Where You Are” during its fifth annual Black Male Symposium on Friday, April 17, in Ministers’ Hall.

Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the symposium starts at 9. Speakers and information sessions will continue until 3 p.m. Lunch will be served from noon to 1:15 p.m., allowing attendees an opportunity to network.

The Black Male Symposium is designed to provide practical strategies and techniques for colleges and universities, schools, agencies, community groups, parents and programs interested in improving the quality of life for black males. It provides a forum to discuss critical issues and solutions to improving educational outcomes and retention for this population, and aims to empower and motivate black males to see the importance of the role they play in all sequential levels of education and society.


This year’s symposium speakers are Rev. Dr. Michael Lee Cook, a practical theologian and licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriage and family care and counseling, and Dr. Leon D. Caldwell, senior research director at ThinkShift, a research and social innovation collaborative of the DeBruce Foundation.

Cook will speak at 9:30 a.m., and Caldwell will speak at 1:30 p.m.

Cook is the founder and director Micah Counseling Services in Atlanta, a parish-based counseling center that addresses the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs and concerns of individuals, couples, families and groups. He is a clinical fellow and approved supervisor candidate in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapist, and serves as the president of the South-Metro chapter of the Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

A Gulf War veteran and ordained Baptist minister, Cook currently teaches as an adjunct professor in the area of pastoral theology, care and counseling at Emory Candler School of Theology and Columbia Theological Seminary, and regularly presents at professional conferences on family life and its implications for society. He is the author of Black Fatherhood, Adoption, and Theology: A Contextual Analysis and Response.

Caldwell is primarily identified as a scholar-activist who utilizes the medium of research, community organizing and the strategic alignment of networks to develop solutions to issues confronting under-resourced communities. He has previously served as a senior research associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation; an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; founding director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development (Rhodes College) and the Family Potential Center. In addition, he has led national convening of the Think Tank for African-American Progress.

Caldwell also taught in Ghana at the University of Winneba and the University of Cape Coast, teaching such classes as research methods, ethics, career/vocational psychology, black psychology and multicultural counseling, and is the author of several book chapters and journal articles. His population-focused research and scholarship has predominantly focused on black family strengths, and African-American boys and men in the areas of education, health, fatherhood/parenting, community-based participatory research and strength-based culturally responsive systems interventions.

For more information about this year’s Black Male Symposium, call Devin Randolph at 803-535-5301 or email

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