Repairing The Breach
2014 Harvard Conference
In April 2014, the Harvard University Graduate School and the Annie E. Casey Foundation hosted a 20-year retrospective on the philosophical roots of the African American Men and Boys Initiative created by Dr. Bobby Austin and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Harvard conference had four general goals:
To reiterate the principles that are at the heart of Repairing the Breach, the Task Force’s report to the nation;
To provide a forum to bring together those individuals and groups who have, over the years, used various portions of Repairing the Breach principles in their work;
To determine if the principles in Repairing the Breach are still valid in bringing about community change
To re-create the Repairing the Breach Task Force on a smaller scale.
The conference brought more than 500 individuals to the Harvard campus, with more than 300 participating online. Participants agreed that there was still much in the 20-year-old work that could be used. The conference was composed of lectures, workshops, and primary research work in communities, all of which culminated in the published Task Force report, Repairing the Breach: Key Ways to Support Family Life, Reclaim Our Streets and Rebuild Civil Society in America’s Communities. A new generation now wanted to know how to apply the principles today.
Dr. Austin was honored by the conference and the Harvard University Office of the President for his ground-breaking, visionary work, particularly for the approach taken by the Task Force and the report toward leadership development and public and civic work frameworks. Dr. Austin stated at the conference that the focus on African American boys was needed, but that there should also be a focus on the plight of poor white boys and working-class whites, who share many of the same problems as poor African American boys and their families. He stated that there was a need for dialogue between white men and black men, and drew attention to young white men in Medora, Indiana, whose plight was documented in a national television special. He stated that “This work now must be about the common good in America.”
The dialogue from the 2014 retrospective conference continues today.