Resources for Leaders

Origin of the Phrase: Affirmative Development of Boys and Young Men of Color

Building COSEBOC through the words of our forbears.

The mission of COSEBOC is the affirmative social, emotional, cultural, and academic development of boys and young men of color. The term affirmative development was brought to my attention in the early days of COSEBOC.

In my prior work in education, I was fortunate to work with the great child psychologist, Dr. James Comer. Dr. Comer worked closely with another iconic individual, Professor Edmund Gordon. Professor Gordon is an internationally recognized scholar-activist; he is an emeritus professor at University of Texas, Yale University, and at Teachers College, Columbia University.

I first saw the term affirmative development in a report and study that Dr. Gordon chaired for the College Board. The name of that 1999 report was Reaching the Top: A Report of the National Task Force on Minority Student Achievement. The subtitle of the last few paragraphs in the report was “Pursuing Affirmative Development.” It described the actions and policies, which, collectively provided to historically underserved minority students, would advance their academic and social success. The report called for a commitment to affirmative development.

COSEBOC was born in 2006. I asked Dr. Gordon to be a plenary speaker at our first official Gathering of Leaders, and he gave a stirring message. When I spoke with Dr. Gordon afterward. I asked to use the term affirmative development as a core part of our mission statement. Of course, we would acknowledge both him and the report he had produced.

He agreed!