PHILADELPHIA, July 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- I'm David Banks, the President and CEO of the Eagle Academy. Our schools were founded to address a serious problem facing young men of color. The high school graduation rate was only around 30%, and 75% of New York State's entire prison population came from just seven neighborhoods in New York City.
If you were a young man in one of these areas, the odds were stacked against you. So, together with the 100 Black Men, a civic organization of black businessmen and community leaders, we answered the call to do something about this crisis.
Since 2004, the Eagle Academies have educated nearly 4,000 young men. Our graduation rates far exceed the national average for young men of color and 98% of our graduates are accepted to college.
We're making a big difference now, but we could not have done it alone. One leader was with us from the beginning – and our earliest champion. One leader understood that addressing the crisis facing young men of color in our country required innovative measures. One leader pushed to open the first Eagle Academy in the Bronx. And she made a promise to return four years later to offer the keynote address to our first graduating class. And that's a promise she kept!
I'm with Hillary Clinton because she has always been with us.
Today, we have young men who are confident, future leaders. Their resilience is embodied in the daily recitation of the poem Invictus – the same poem that strengthened the resolve of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela when he recited it each day.
Young Men of the Eagle Academy, Invictus, STRAIGHT!
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.