NPR Story
12:50 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

'Boy Of Baraka' Brings Sweet Change To Baltimore

Back in 2005 we introduced you to a group of young men from inner-city Baltimore who spent a year studying in Kenya as part of a small education program called the Baraka School.

The idea was to get the boys away from the crime and drugs in their neighborhood. Their experiences were featured in a documentary called “The Boys of Baraka.”

Taharka Brothers represents a generation of people wanting to better themselves.
–Devon Brown

The group was supposed to stay in Kenya for four years, but after just one year, the program was canceled due to security concerns.

When the film came out, we spoke with Devon Brown, who was in 10th grade and was back in school in Baltimore.

“I had to take what I have learned from over there … respect, responsibilities and being a man and trying to get your education,” he told Here & Now back in 2005. “I had to take what I learned over there, bring it over here so now that I can come home, I am adapted to going to school.”

Eight years later, Brown is an entrepreneur who invests in improving the futures of other young African American men in Baltimore.

He and a group of friends started Taharka Brothers Ice Cream. The company’s training program uses profits from the ice cream business to teach young men about entrepreneurship and business.

Taharka Brothers is a Benefit Corporation — a special commercial status in Maryland for for-profit companies with the purpose of creating a public benefit.

The company is named for Taharka McCoy, a 25-year-old who was fatally shot in 2002 by a 14-year-old as he tried to wrestle a gun out of the teen’s hands. McCoy had rebuilt his life after serving a prison sentence.

“There are a lot of Taharkas, whether you are in Baltimore, whether you’re in Chicago, whether you are in Little Rock, Arkansas, there are a lot of Taharkas, a lot of young men and women growing up in underprivileged communities. Taharka Brothers represents a generation of people wanting to better themselves, and we’re going to use our ice cream as a way to make that happen.”

The Taharka Brothers have an ice cream factory and two push carts. They recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an ice cream truck and exceeded their funding goal of $28,000.

Listen to Here & Now's 2005 interview with Devon Brown

Guest

  • Devon Brown, CEO of Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.

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Edible DC “When Mike Prokop made a delivery to a customer last week, he could tell that they thought he was coming to rob them. Not expecting him, they seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when they realized that he was just there to deliver ice cream. Darius Wilmore, one of Mike’s mentors and a key leader at Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, noted the irony of choosing ice cream as the focus of a company dedicated to young black people: ‘You’ve got young black men, who are deemed dangerous and a threat to your life … selling the sweetest, softest thing on the face of the earth.’”

Baltimore City Paper “Flavors like A Dream Preferred (toasted coconut, Haitian rhum, toffee and pop rocks) is a tribute to Langston Hughes’ love for penny candy. And Pryor Knowledge celebrates other “N” words (think Nutella, nutmeg, nuts and ‘nutter butter cookies). These flavors and more will be scooped out of the hot pink truck, if and when it gets moving.”

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