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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Keep your eyes on the pride

An ELCA program guides African American boys on their journey into manhood

It's difficult to recall now, but the humidity last August was unbearable. The African American boys and men, their faces slick with sweat, ignored the heat. Instead they half-shouted, half-sang, as if their lives depended on it: "Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on, hold on!"

And their lives did depend on it. When they stomped, they did so as one body, more than 300 feet hitting the floor in unison. Over the past two weeks, they had learned that in everything they must work together.

Most of them were simbas, a Swahili word that means "young lions." The past two weeks at Camp EWALU in Strawberry Point, Iowa, had focused on these 147 boys: healing and reshaping them, washing away their biases and stereotypes, and giving them confidence and hope.


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