JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Joel Cotton knows too many young African-American men end up in prisons or early graves.
But Cotton, an 18-year-old high school senior, wants to portray a more positive picture.
"It saddens me that the good things that go on don't make the front page. The negative things always make the front page," Cotton said.
Joshua Wallace, 17, a high school junior, has dreadlocks and wears urban clothing, but he's tired of being stereotyped.
"They think I'm probably a thug," said Wallace. "I'm not any of those things. I'm just trying to go to school and be successful."
Wallace and Cotton were among the young African-American males who are looking forward to the Save Our Sons Summit.
"I think all of us are tired. That's really what this is about," said Dr. John Guns. "This is really about helping people who can't always help themselves."
Several different nonprofits are behind the S.O.S. initiative.
"We have parents that are ill-equipped," said Guns. "Ill-equipped parents will produce valueless sons."
Guns, who is a pastor at St. Paul Church, said the community needs to act now.
"I think everybody has been in their little cocoon trying to do their thing," he said.
Dr. Guns said the Save Our Sons summit will be a mass revival of young men.
"We've got to do it together," said Guns. "I can reach ten kids but together we can reach a thousand."
High-risk kids like Cotton and Wallace.
"I want to take heed because I want to be successful in life. I don't want to be in prison," said Wallace.
The summit will be at Ribault High School on May 18.
The summit will focus on young men 10 to 18 years of age and the main goal is to equip them to make better decisions.
The final goal is to save kids like Cotton and Wallace from hitting a dead end in a prison or a grave.
First Coast News