What would you say if I told you that President Obama is not the only black man in America who believes, as he said at 2 a.m on Nov. 7, that “This country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and the future generations.”
You’d say of course that’s true. But would you say:
“I know lots of black men who help others and look out for future generations every single day.” It’s a serious question. Do you? Do you know black men who make a difference each and every day, but don’t tabulate their contribution in some official or unofficial ledger?
We believe that you do. And more importantly, we want you to do something about it.
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We want to give you the opportunity to acknowledge these coaches, businessmen, fathers and brothers who do more than their fair share to help others and to make our communities stronger.
Knight Foundation, in partnership with the Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement, is proud to sponsor BMe – now operating in Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia, with plans to expand into more cities next year.
Beginning today, we invite you to go to www.bmecommunity.org and see what brothers in these three cities are doing every day to share, inspire, connect and empower our communities.
And if you live in one of the three cities I mentioned, please share a story about what you do or nominate someone you know.
Why are we collecting these stories about black men? Because we recognize that men like these are the strength of our communities and we want to build upon our strengths.
It’s unfair and limiting to identify black men solely by their challenges. So we are inviting you to acknowledge their contributions.
Then we are going to provide those men access to information and opportunities to help themselves and to continue to help others.
Last year, when we piloted BMe in Detroit and Philadelphia more than 2,000 black men and their champions posted video testimonials of the big and small things they do to make their communities stronger. We then gave each of them a shot at grant funding, if they wanted it. We ended up giving out over $400,000 in grants to 20 of them.
This year, as we start another program in Baltimore, we have created a new website to post video testimonials and to allow you to connect to these good men from all walks of life. We will provide new resources and networking opportunities, and in 2013 a new funding opportunity.
Though BMe is built around acknowledging the positive contributions of black men, you don’t have to be a black man to participate. Anyone can name a brother in Detroit, Philadelphia and Baltimore that they know who is deserving of recognition.
Anyone can connect with the brothers at www.bmecommunity.org who are taking action on issues that you also care about.
In your city, there are thousands of great black men who inspire by being themselves. We are creating an easier way for you to get to know them and for them to get to know each other because, as our newly re-elected president said last week: “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together.”
By Trabian Shorters, vice president/Communities at Knight Foundation