What happens when 40 African American men share stories of challenges and triumphs in their lives? An exceptional book; “Reach – 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding.”
The book features 40 five-to-six page stories written by celebrities such as musician John Legend, actor Louis Gossett, Jr. and a variety of community leaders and builders throughout the country. Each entry highlights the realities that Black men live through and their resilience as they continue to dream.
At a recent book launch party held at Oakland’s Betti Ono Art Gallery, “Reach” project leaders and editors Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters held a panel discussion along with local contributors Jarvis Sulcer, president and CEO of the Level Playing Field Institute, and Justin Davis, program officer of College Bound Brotherhood.
The panel, led by Stephen DeBerry of Bronze Investments, provided insightful discussion into the minds of men – their fears, obstacles, triumphs and the pressure to guide the next generation of leaders down the right path. They discussed the importance of dialogue and openness to foster the entire health of Black males and the community.
“The beauty of this book is that it gives the reader an opportunity to see themselves through the stories of others,” said DeBerry.
“Sharing personal stories in “Reach” provides a vehicle and voice to the fight, voice to the struggle and sheds light on the necessary actions it takes to rebuild a hurting community,” said Jealous, a Kapor Capital partner.
Jealous and Shorters both reiterated that men suffer through isolation because they may not have a brotherhood to depend on while women have a village approach of support during their times of crisis.
“Men need to have other men they can talk to and share with in order for their mental health and the stability to help lead healthy and powerful communities,” said Shorters, CEO of BMe Community.
Illustrations in the book by Kwesi Ferebee of Design Action Collective offer a creative sketch of each contributor. “I’m proud to have been a part of such an important project,” said Ferebee.
The launch party also featured the talented children of Young, Gifted and Black, who performed spoken word and song to the beat of stepping and hand clapping.
“Ain’t gonna let racism turn me around,” they sung and chanted as they spoke affirmations on the power of Black people.
“This project really speaks to the meaning of brotherhood and community,” said Cedric Brown, CEO of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation.
Freada and Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital provided funding for the project and proudly share their love of leveraging technology to ensure a diverse playing field for tech talent.
“We are proud to help in the launching of “Reach” and we know that the next big idea will come from the untapped pools of talent in this room,” said Freada Kapor Klein. “Life gives rise to a sense of possibilities and we support that promise of the future.”
For more information, visit www.reachwithus.com.