“Now I finally get it. I got it now.” -- Darryl Coates
“I go to court to seek justice for my daughter and this energized me to continue the fight for her, her children, and against domestic violence.” -- William Spratley
“This is fantastic. This is really nice. Thank you.” – Brandon Jones
“Yall really made us feel special. This is awesome Ms. Greenwood.” -- Tyrone Werts
“Congratulations Donna. The program last night was inspiring, educational, and very catalytic.” --Kenny Holdsman
“I didn’t graduate from high school, I just got a GED. But today I see my name in lights and got a yearbook with my name in it.”
Those are just a few of the things that I remember men saying to me last week throughout the Philadelphia BME Celebration at The Franklin Institute. The celebration highlighted the more than 1,000 black men and boys who shared their stories of leadership as part of the BME Challenge.
They thanked me over and over again, but this event was about thanking them for doing what they do to make their communities better and for sharing the stories of their life and work. Franklin Hall was filled with love, respect and gratitude. After the rousing speech from award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator Jeff Johnson and an intergenerational conversation between BME nominees, everyone left more energized and determined to connect to one another and work more closely to inspire others. And that is what Black Male Engagement is all about—continuing to do what you do, but no longer having to do it alone or in a silo, and using your story and connections to inspire others to take action.
We're looking forward to hearing from these men in phase 2 of the challenge, where they can apply for funding of up to $50,000 for their projects.
- by Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director/Philadelphia at Knight Foundation.