Jaylon Thomas, a junior at the University of Central Oklahoma is an active leader in addressing issues of increasing the retention of black males on campus. For the last two years he has worked closely with grassroot efforts to advocate for the success of black males in higher education, including efforts to rally faculty and staff to support programs that would provide a platform for those students to persist at the university. He currently serves as the Black Male Initiative Intern where he and his fellow counterparts in the program are exploring the possibility of creating a living learning community that would give black males both a safe space and support system that they can use to navigate their undergraduate experience.
I first became involved in addressing issues that plague black males when I joined the Black Male Initiative. As I got more involved, I began to find my niche in the program by serving as a tutor to the black men in the program. Through doing this tutoring, I became more conscious about the psychological issues that black men deal with in a higher education setting. As a result, I lead the Black Male Initiative in an effort to teach black males about their identity in society, as well as advocating for black male success in higher education. I am also involved in community efforts to resist the unjust police brutality by formulating research questions that will help relieve the hostility between law enforcement and the black community abroad.