Teen group formed to counteract youth issues while promoting cultural pride and academics
As a child born in the 1990s, Malcom Deluvon Burton of Akron, Ohio, has experienced the excitement and the benefits of the Information Technological Age.
Conversely, he has witnessed another side of the new millennium generation, where young men who look like him are seemingly regarded as Public Enemy No. 1. Young men like Trayvon Martin, and closer to home, shooting victims like 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland and in Cincinnati, rap producer Samuel DuBose, were also fatally shot by law enforcement officials.
Even before the aforementioned fatal events occurred, Burton says he felt a need to forge a certain unity and bond amongst his peers. As a high school junior, Burton founded My Brother/My Sister (MBMS) ironically during Black History Month in 2008.
“I was 16 at Copley High School in Copley Twp. (Akron, Ohio), and being a black American male, I felt like my high school peers needed to be introduced to culture and community love,” he said.
He felt it was also a way to “nullify self-hate while promoting a more natural bond between the genders. Hence, the sisterhood-brotherhood organization was born.
“While our Civil Rights history— Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are valuable background, our young people also need to know other stories,” he said.
Recently, Burton’s group traveled by bus from Northeast Ohio to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. As a 2014 graduate of Morgan State University, Burton wanted to expose the young people from his hometown to significant historical sites such as Baltimore’s Great Blacks In Wax Museum; and the Martin Luther King Jr. monument in the District of Columbia.
In it’s ten-year history, MBMS, has grown to about 100 members, mainly of middle- and high-school ages. The group is open to all cultures but the primary goal is to sustain cultural love and pride among black youths,” according to Burton.
MBMS has two chapters that meet weekly— one in Akron at Copley High, the other in East Cleveland at East Technical High. Burton says the non-profit group is funded via the Cleveland Indians’ Larry Doby Youth Fund Grant.
Doby was the first black to play American League baseball with the Cleveland Indians in July 1947, three months after Jackie Robinson broke the color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Burton says MBMS is currently awaiting national 501c3 non-profit status.
Older members of the group now serve as mentors and academic tutors for the younger members.
“Our goal is to produce scholars,” said Burton, noting that the organization currently boasts 30 college graduates and several current college attendees.
Burton also has a master’s degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University. Later this year, his first book, “A Safe Place To Call Home: Community Love and Culture,” will be released. He is just 26-years-old.
Burton is proud of his blended African-American and Puerto Rican heritage. He is also proud of having been raised in a two-parent home, and is cognizant of raising his own children in a similar environment “when that day comes,” he said, smiling.
For more information about MBMS, call Malcom D. Burton at 216-526-34