Durham native gives back by hosting virtual summit aimed at empowering young men of color

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham native Derek Rhodes has a passion for helping out the youth and giving them a platform to speak out.

"Growing up in Durham I always imagined a back to school event that actually excited me and got me energized about the school year," said Rhodes. "Last year when thinking about that lifelong dream to start something I decided to just do it."

Rhodes is hosting his second annual Durham Success Summit in hopes of leveling the playing field by empowering young men of color. He plans for the summit to be contemporary by tackling issues that have troubled young men of color this summer.

"Having done the pop-up talks throughout town, one of the things we regularly heard was that young men wish there were more spaces to have productive dialogue while also learning from folks who look like them and understand their background," Rhodes said. "This year we really want to hone in on the current moment but also respond directly to what students ask us for."


"We don't have a lot of spaces for that," said Joshua Nicholson. "That's why I'm grateful that this was created. I think it gives people like myself and others a space to be themselves. We don't always fit into these social norms that we like to make about society. Some of us have different ways of being creative, of thinking. This space is for that."

Catawba college freshman Joshua Nicholson went to the summit last year and says it's part of the reason why he's in college and doing well today.

"I think it's important to me that young people like Joshua feel heard and that they feel like they have the resources and spaces they need to be successful," said Rhodes.

The virtual summit is free and you can still sign up here https://hopin.to/events/durhamsummit. It offers a range of featured speakers including Duke Men's basketball assistant coach Nolan Smith and Gina Loften the vice-president at Microsoft.

"It's a testament I feel to this broader network and movement happening in Durham where there are so many leaders that are part of this," said Rhodes"

"I'm going into this as kind of an open season on whatever I want to learn about," Nicholson said "There is so many different things you can learn about. I'm still relatively young in this search of finding a career or thing I want to do. This will give me the opportunity to get me exposed to as many fields and careers as possible."
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