You know the litany of depressing statistics about black men by heart: low life expectancy, high unemployment, low graduation rates, high incarceration rates–not to mention the three H’s: HIV infection, heart disease, and homicide. But the number that haunts you most is zero. You have heard the refrain so long you have come to believe that black men have no chance because there are no black role models.
This is false.
BLACK MALES DO NOT FACE THEIR CHALLENGES ALONE BECAUSE THERE ARE BLACK MALE ROLE MODELS.
We, the co-founders of Know Black Male Role Models remember that Gil Scott-Heron told us: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Therefore, we are not looking there. We don’t have to look hard, though, to find fathers, friends, uncles, grandfathers, coaches, neighbors, surgeons, mailmen, barbers–a web of supporters and soothsayers. With our eyes refocused, we are finding inspiring people everywhere we look.
Once, when it was a rarity even to see a black face on television, black people used occasions like Negro History Week (which became Black History Month) to shine a spotlight on those overlooked by the Jim Crow media. The people we celebrate today on No Black Male Role Models may not have their own reality show, hold national office, or run an entertainment company, but they do bring enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity to their pursuits and touch lives so that their achievements have an impact beyond themselves.
This project is not about creating mythical heroes who never set one foot wrong. It is not about creating more celebrities, as if the only people who matter perform at the Super Bowl or have thousands of Twitter followers. Instead, it is a grassroots operation, where black men can celebrate those unsung people who had a direct impact on their lives. We want to identify and honor people who have borne up others with little to no recognition, fame, or glory–simply because they believed in their souls it was the right thing to do. They might be professors or work at a community center, entrepreneurs or sanitation workers. The point is not their title or their investment portfolio but the fruits of their investment in the lives of others.
If you are interested in contributing, please contact the co-founders of the site (firstname.lastname@example.org). We welcome contributions from black men discussing those who have inspired them, as well as people of all backgrounds discussing black men who have had a direct and positive impact on their lives.
To give you an idea of the type of questions that will be useful in your honoree assessment, we have created an interview template. See below:
- Each profile should be roughly two to four substantial paragraphs. We are looking for unsung people of all ages, and we are looking for a full portrait that acknowledges weaknesses and challenges as much as strengths and accomplishments.
- Honoree’s name (and city of residence)
- What goals and principles have guided honoree’s life?
- Who are one or two instrumental people that have helped honoree along their path?
- How is or was the honoree active in fostering the development of others?
- How has the honoree directly impacted the contributor’s life?
- What are some challenges the honoree has had to overcome? What challenges do they still face? How do they cope with those persistent challenges and keep progressing?
- What is a key mistake that the honoree had to recover from and what did they learn?
- What are key contribution(s) of the honoree?
- What would the honoree like to leave as legacy?
- Quote (if available)
- Image/photo (if available)
We hope that this guide will help, and we encourage you to identify unique elements that make your honoree special to you. We hope this experience will be as eye-opening and enriching for the readers of this site as it is for the contributors and honorees.
Get to Know Black Male Role Models.
~ Miles G. & Greg P.