May 8, 2017

Male educators of color are uniquely positioned to write a new narrative

Profound Gentlemen is helping to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, one teacher at a time

According to the nonprofit Profound Gentlemen, only 2 percent of teachers in public schools are men of color. The organization is trying to change that by providing professional development and mentorship to male teachers of color. Photo courtesy of Profound Gentlemen

In “The Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois posed a serious and thought-provoking question about the human condition of black people in 1903 America: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Du Bois was not delving into problems that arose from financial constraints, education depression, or an unfair judicial system, but the problem of simply being a breathing, feeling, and thoughtful black body.

Du Bois wrote about the conditions of Black people in 1903 America, and oddly enough, his words ring true today, especially in relation to our students. If I presented you a school environment where the people who resemble you and your family members were not equitably reflected in advanced placement courses, gifted and talented programs, or even as your instructional leaders, but were the faces of discipline policies and academic interventions programs, you might think there’s a problem. Either the system is completely broken, or our students are the culprit.

When we see our students, especially our boys, as problems and do not acknowledge their positive attributes, we miss out on the beauty of their perspectives.

When we see our students, especially our boys, as problems and do not acknowledge their positive attributes, we miss out on the beauty of their perspectives. We miss out on the reality of their dreams, and they miss out on what Aristotle defines as the “good life”—intellectual and character virtues.

Profound Gentlemen was birthed on the idea that our black and brown boys are assets; we equip men of color with the resources, structures, and tools to uncover these assets through education and mentorship. Not only are we preparing men of color to be leaders in their school building, but we empower them to use our Code Orange Curriculum that infuses social emotional learning, college and career readiness, and civic and community engagement to ensure that their students, especially their boys, are on a cradle-to-career pipeline. These educators dedicate additional time to support boys of color by meeting at least 120 minutes a month and facilitating Code Orange activities into their lessons.

Our Work in Action

I want to highlight one educator, Archie Moss. Archie is an educator and the principal of Bruce Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. Archie founded and currently runs the Gentlemen’s League, a program designed to educate, empower, and enrich males. In just elementary school, Archie has used Profound Gentlemen’s framework to equip his boys with the skills to enter into a cradle-to-career pipeline.

Archie incorporates social and emotional learning by encouraging his boys to be authentic, network, and build meaningful bonds. He strategically breaks his boys into clusters: The King Squad after Dr. Martin Luther King, The Obama Squad after President Barack Obama, and The Marshall Squad after Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Each cluster is led by a Head of House and a Co-Head of House. The purpose of the clusters are to provide each gentleman with opportunities to develop authentic relationships with one another, hold each other accountable to academic success, provide peer mentorship, and create an atmosphere where the boys learn the true meaning behind “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Archie Moss highlights the assets of his boys by encouraging them to create their own narratives. Check out their work at

Archie is one of the hundreds of male educators of color in the Profound Gentlemen community who is reshaping the narrative for boys of color in his school. We have a front row seat to observe and support the impact he is having, and we know that Archie’s work is fueling young boys to enter a cradle-to-career pipeline.

Visit Be a friend, a supporter, and grab a front row seat to watch the impact.

Jason Terrell

Profound Gentlemen

Jason is the co-founder and Director of Development for Profound Gentlemen. He received a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2015 and bachelor’s degree from Furman University. Jason began his journey as an 8th grade teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools through Teach for America. During his time in the classroom, Jason served as a mentor, athletic coach, and tutor. Jason is a 2015 recipient of the Echoing Green fellowship. He has been recognized by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 as one of the world’s brightest social innovators who seek to bring about change and equal opportunity for boys and male educators of color.