Dontavius Jarrells, founder of the Columbus African Council, is searching for answers to the challenges faced by Ohio's African American and African immigrant communities.
“It’s complicated,” Jarrells says. “Many times you have some young people who enter and traverse through the education space and have a lot of difficulty. You have some students who come out on the other end very successful.”
The organization is holding a discussion at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's main branch Tuesday night on "The State Of Black Education," the latest in its conversation series.
Jarrels says the idea is to get community input for solutions. Five panelists will also add their insights., including Columbus City Schools superintendent, Talisa Dixon, Columbus School Board member James Ragland and Columbus Africentric Early College principal Tyree Pollard.
“There’s a lot of questions that teachers and parents have and I hope to answer some of those questions with the great panelists that we have,” Jarrells says.
Jarrells attended Cleveland Public Schools, and says he feels fortunate for helpful teachers and mentors that guided him. He says many African American students may not be given the necessary resources to succeed.
“Depending upon your zip code you unfortunately will get a certain level of opportunity as it relates to education,” Jarrells says. “Many black young people are coming through, are trying to navigate not just difficulties at home, but difficulties conversing the educational space.”
Jarrells says these community conversations, which started in May, also focused on bringing together Columbus' African immigrant communities from Ghana, Somalia, and Nigeria, among many others.
"It's more so about how do we empower the voices as a collective, because we have so many beautiful African cultures that exist here in the city,” Jarrells. “How do we make sure that we have an agenda to promote and create the solutions to the issues that we're facing?"
The event is Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. at the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s main branch downtown.
“The conversation that we hope to have is how do we make sure that any student, regardless of their zip code gets the best chance to have an amazing opportunity, an amazing educational quality so they can be prepared for the future and help build what is the next generation of Columbus and beyond,” says Jarrells.
In September, the Columbus African Council plans to hold a second discussion on the "State Of Black Mental Health."