REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding, is a collection of personal and in-depth essays from 40 notable African American men who share their knowledge and accounts of success. The book provides encouraging stories of each of their paths to provide a course for each of their readers. Some of the men in the book include John Legend, Louis Gossett,Jr, Rev. Al Sharpton, Talib Kweli as well as businessmen, educators and activist.
Benjamin Todd Jealous and Trabian Shorters creators of the book held a panel discussion, “ Reaching for Our Youth” at Morehouse college moderated by TV personality and activist Jeff Johnson. The panel included; Actor and activist Lamman Rucker, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, State Rep. Stacey Abrams and president of Morehouse College John Silvanus Wilson.
The topics of discussion were; the need for more positive male role models in the African American community, uniting the community and education and economic empowerment. The discussion started with the inspiration and need for these kinds of books in the African American community. “Your generation inspired this book,” Shorters said. “All of us has experience and young people imitate what they do see but they don’t imitate what they do not know or do not see. They often do not see brothers and sisters just like them so there was a need for this book. This book doesn’t just look at one kind of black man; it doesn’t look at one kind of black story, “Jealous said.
Johnson asked what the panelist felt the biggest challenge the youth and the African American community face. Warnock believes dehumanization is apart of our struggle. “We need to learn to stop talking about it and overcome it,” he said. The black church is assistance to these problems he said. We need to not separate because of class and wealth.
Rucker gave an account of how the African American community being separated is one of the main problems. “The main enemy is classism,” he said. He feels that the black community creates the separatism they complain about.
Not exercising your right to vote is a main issue for Rep. Adams. “How can you even the playing field if you aren’t even in the game, “ she said. In order to combat this issue she feels that one must be wiling to help people realize their right to vote.
President Wilson felt that ignorance and hopelessness is the enemy. He feels figuring out why you are born is the most important purpose in life. He quoted Mark Twain, ““The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” He also said this book would better provide its reader an easier way of finding their purpose. He enjoyed the book so much he said he was gifting the book to Morehouse College’s incoming freshmen class.
They all agreed that the African American community is to small be separated. “The power of our community is realizing that you are one community. See teachers in everybody you know, in everybody you see,” Jealous said.
To follow the REACH movement, follow Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters on twitter and instagram @BenJealous and @TSatKF