In their own voices
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The educational status of African American male youth is in a crisis that threatens to unravel the educational advancements of the past 50 years (Howard, 2008). With the passing of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Americans were afforded the rationale for racial equity in education and African Americans students benefited. African Americans saw gains in college attendance and graduation; African Americans law school enrollment grew; and the percentage of African American medical students increased (Zirkel & Cantor, 2004). These noteworthy accomplishments may be overshadowed if the inadequate achievement of many African American young men is not addressed and rectified. In all sectors of the United States, young African American men are overwhelmingly represented in the arenas of poverty, incarceration, disease, and violence, but underrepresented in the area of academic success. Closing the achievement gap between African American males and their White counterparts is imperative for the U.S. and helps ensure that those traditionally marginalized improve their access to an economically advantageous quality of life while strengthening a democratic society (Bainbridge & Lasley, II, 2002). While much literature has been devoted to theorizing about the supposed deficits of African American male youth and their inability to perform at the level of their White counterparts, few studies have included the voices of the African American adolescents experiencing the achievement gap. This qualitative study uses a phenomenological paradigm to describe the perceptions African American male youth have of African American students who achieve academically and why there continues to be an achievement gap. The study was conducted within a social justice framework and seeks to better inform school counselors of the increasing challenges African American male youth experience as they navigate through the educational systems. This study advocates for all counselors to create more culturally relevant interventions which meet the particular academic needs of African American male youth.