(FinalCall.com) – Janks Morton will debut his latest film, “Men II Boys” at the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day Convention in Chicago, scheduled for Feb. 27-March 1, 2009. The film is a documentary of men telling boys things fathers used to pass down to sons, things that advanced one generation to the next.
The movie is a collaboration with LaMarr Darnell Shields, CEO of the Urban Leadership Institute and author of “101 Things Every Boy of Color Should Know.”
“The book would be a great tool and resource but it needed a visual medium to reach youth. Most boys have Ipods, X-boxes and the internet. A book has a hard time getting picked up,” Mr. Morton told The Final Call. “This DVD will be a complement to the book. Men telling boys what they need to ascend to manhood.”
The documentary is broken up into six segments such as the basics, faith and resources.
“We have brothers talking in each segment. We give them practical things they need to know like how to write in cursive, how to tie a tie and how to do geometry. We then give them advice from people who use these skills on the advantages and disadvantages of having or not having these skills,” said Mr. Morton.
“We use real world stories to compliment the advice. Booker T. Washington said that teaching a man to think raises half a man. We are giving boys what they need to be successful.”
Too many Black boys growing up have little if any significant contact with their fathers. Would they be interested in a documentary like this?
“This movie shows the spectrum of Black men. They urgently want to pass on the lessons they’ve learned. Black men were breaking down in tears at the disconnect with their fathers,” said Mr. Morton whose first film “What Black Men Think” explored similar issues.
“I asked men 25-30-years old to respond to the statement, ‘my life would be different if my father had been there because …. ’ They said, ‘Hell yeah my life would have been different.’ The family structures we’re seeing today is something new.”
“I watched an interview with Hill Harper about his books and felt many of the boys I work with would have literary challenges getting through it. I wanted to write a book that gave practical, concrete advice to boys of color from men who wished they’d had this information or felt when they got it, it made a difference in their lives,” Mr. Shields told The Final Call.
The book is geared toward all boys of color such as Latinos, East Indians and Blacks. It touches on the things that unify their lives such as racism and discrimination.
Mr. Shields wanted to offer single moms a book that listed many of the things that help to grow boys into men such as how to change a tire, how to prepare a meal for a woman, how to pray and meditate, how to use a screw driver and how to know the true value of friendship.
The author and filmmaker had a casting call in Baltimore last December where hundreds of men showed up to contribute.
Farajii Muhammad promoted the casting call on his WEAA-FM radio show by interviewing Mr. Shields and Mr. Morton.
“We talked about the challenges in our community in reaching our youth. We talked about the issue of fear and how many in our community are afraid to approach our youth. We also talked about the mental strength needed to change our condition,” said Mr. Muhammad.
What were his pearls of wisdom for the book?
“My father always taught me to be a man of principle and to uphold my standards. He taught me to be a man of my word, that my word is bond. That’s what we learn in the Nation of Islam too. Being a man of your word is very important. What we’re seeing today is not the way it’s always been. We have a wonderful history of strong families and there are wonderful narratives of Black men showing their commitment to their families.”