(Washington, DC) – This month, forty-three black fathers, nonprofit leaders and businessmen in Akron, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will receive $400,000 in grants to help them strengthen their communities. The grants are presented by BMe Community, a growing national network of 12,000 black men and others of all races and genders who are committed to building better communities across the U.S.
According to BMe Community, the 43 men, called “BMe Leaders”, were nominated by local residents and chosen because they were already consistently helping thousands of their neighbors. Each of the men has also agreed to stand up for important values in America’s evolving dialogue on race, community and our nation’s future.
Specifically, BMe Community believes that the most prosperous way forward for America is to value all its people, recognize black men as assets, reject stories that denigrate people, and work together for our common interests in caring and prosperous communities. The BMe Leaders embody those values. Their personal stories and leadership inspires others to reach for those values as well. Participants in BMe Community use the hashtag #ReachWithUs to share, inspire, and empower each other with words of congratulation, useful information, images, and event invites.
BMe started honoring these 43 “Community Fathers” in local ceremonies that began June 18 and end tomorrow in Detroit on June 27th. The events and BMe Community are backed by private donations, leading foundations and corporations including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Heinz Endowments, JP Morgan Chase, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since 2012, BMe has named 143 BMe Leaders in five cities, sponsored over 100 community events and produced countless stories of solutions and the inspiring people behind them.
One of the first to ever be named a BMe Leader is Shaka Senghor, an author, speaker and leader in criminal justice reform who was named a BMe Leader in 2012 for his efforts in Detroit to increase literacy and decrease violence. The honor came less than two years after he was released from serving 19 years in prison for a crime he committed as a teenager. In the three years since BMe recognized him, Shaka has rattled off an impressive list of accomplishments including being named an MIT Media Lab Fellow, a Kellogg Foundation Community Fellow, being featured in BMe’s bestselling book “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding” and producing a popular TED Talk titled “Why Your Worst Deeds Shouldn’t Define You.” He currently serves as BMe’s National Outreach Representative. To see his Ted Talk, watch below:
BMe encourages anyone who shares its values to register for the events or become a participant in the network. www.bmecommunity.org.
BMe Leaders come from all walks of life, ranging in age from 21 to over 80. They are black men who are often unheralded yet lead by example on matters ranging from creating businesses to educating children to protecting human rights. The BMe Leaders work with men and women of all races who also want cities that are prosperous, safe, and provide hope and opportunity to future generations.
“America is at another one of those historic moments where we can choose chaos or community” says Shorters, “These men have always been here. We just admit their existence and invite people of all races and genders to reach with us to build assets, build community and give our children a better story of America’s future.”
The next Induction Ceremony is open to the public tomorrow in Detroit at the University of Michigan Detroit Center, Michigan Room at 1:00 p.m. RSVP: www.bmecommunity.org/detroit2015
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)