Black male leaders from across America attended a national conference and were humanized like never before.
Two weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement produced at The Muhammad Ali Center the fifth installment of ‘Rumble Young Man Rumble,’ a national conference in which dozens of leaders from across the country share best practices for improving life outcomes for young black men.
This year, however, was unlike any of the conferences in the past, because the leaders, who often give selflessly of themselves, were the recipients of healing, encouragement and inspiration; it was, quite literally, a chance for superheroes to recharge their powers.
I keynoted the final day of the conference. And though I was scheduled to speak on Mr. Muhammad Ali’s principle of giving, I opted to address the challenges –overcoming past hurts in order to pursue the future, for example – that most leaders confront daily, challenges that, at times, causes our giving to be tainted by self-doubt, among other things.
I asked two questions to my audience: “Who in the room this year has dealt with hurt and depression?,” and “Who has contemplated suicide?”
The number of leaders who raised their hands was eye-opening to me, and to the spectators. After my speech, a session was held for conference attendees that enabled five men to volunteer and state what they would say, knowing what they know now, to their younger selves.
The men who got up were unashamed about their past and the issues that they confronted and overcame.
With every story, the atmosphere got heavier and you could feel the mental and emotional weights being lifted off individuals in the room.
“It was one of the most trans-formative experiences of my life, Mr. Greg Corbin, founder of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, said in an exclusive interview by phone with Techbook Online.
Mr. Corbin was among the five men who shared their story. He told of his childhood struggle with obesity and, with tears streaming down his face, opened up about being bullied.
As he talked, I observed the room and saw men on every side in tears. Mr. Corbin tried to conclude but was overtaken by emotion, he broke down and suddenly, every man in the room rushed to the stage to embrace him, and one another.
The event, said Mr. Corbin, provided “a space where black men and boys were not only humanized, but cherished for the genius that they are born with.”
I had some time to reflect on the events that transpired in Kentucky and I’ve realized that we leaders, who attempt to provide healing for others, often, neglect ourselves.
In the New Year, I urge leaders like myself to continue to give but to also take the time to heal and rest, because even the biggest of superheroes have to iron their capes and recharge their powers.
B.O.L.D member Richard Taylor, considered the voice of Chicago, is an activist, best-selling author and motivational speaker. Mr. Taylor’s newest book, entitled “Between the Dream,” is available for purchase HERE.
Keep a look out in January 2016 for an NPR Music documentary starring Grammy Award-Winner Mr. Christian McBride and co-starring Mr. Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris.
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