The Star Tribune reported on a coming-of-age event at the Minneapolis Marriott on a recent Saturday evening. The event, called Rites of Passage, featured 20 young men marching into the Marriott's ballroom to the sound of African drumming. The young men had just completed a six-month program signifying their passage into adulthood.
The article began with a shocking story about Taylor Williamson, one of the initiates. Right before Christmas last year, Williamson's father passed away, and Williamson said he didn't know how he would deal with that loss. He said he found comfort through his family and the brothers in the Rites of Passage program.
The other initiates were also from the Twin Cities area, the Star Tribune said. They said the students displayed a range of interests in sports, arts and academics, and most have aspirations to continue on to college.
The ceremony lasted 90 minutes, the Tribune reported. During the ceremony, the initiates went from being clothed in tuxedos to donning robes similar to those of African kings. This symbolized their parting ways with childhood, the article said.
The Star Tribune said initiate Kasey Boyd said the program gave the young men a chance to connect across different schools. The article also noted the young men visited a correctional facility as part of the program, and the men said it was a place they never wanted to be.
Rites of Passage co-founder Linda Baker Keene told the Star Tribune that many people focus on kids in trouble, but they wanted to honor the kids who were doing things right. The Tribune said the young mean learned about health, money, time management and business etiquette.
The article said the program has had over 200 graduates from public, private and charter schools, and most continue on to higher education. The young men form lifelong bonds with each other, said Henry Crosby, who has co-chaired the program for 10 years. The Tribune concluded by mentioning that the ceremony blended traditions from different cultures and included such things as ceremonial drinks and lit candles to represent values like unity, self-determination and faith.