BME is a new effort that seeks to highlight the stories of unsung heroes among Philadelphia and Detroit’s black men and boys. So far, over 1,000 men have stepped forward to tell their stories in writing and through video at BMEChallenge.org. In this blog post, Philadelphia Program Director Donna Frisby-Greenwood talks about why BME (pronounced BME) hits home.
By Donna Frisby-Greenwood
For more than a month, we’ve given Black men in Philadelphia an opportunity to highlight their stories of how they help their neighbors and even strangers in ways big and small to strengthen our community. I want to thank the more than 700 men who have shared their stories with us thus far as well as the people who nominated them but I know there are hundreds more.
I grew up in Philadelphia, in a family of strong, intelligent and civic-minded black men. I had no idea until I was 21-years-old and teaching a seventh grade class in Philadelphia that there were children growing up without that kind of influence in their lives.
My uncles. older cousins, and father, almost all of whom are now deceased along with my dad, were doctors, teachers, professors, chemists, pilots, lawyers, servicemen (one of whom was the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy), high ranking civil servants, and a trolley car driver (the first black in the city).
In addition to having great careers, being the heads of their households and raising me and my cousins, they all used their talents in the community to help others. They taught literacy classes to adults, tutored children, served on school boards, provided free medical care, ran Police Athletic Leagues, coached baseball and basketball and served as leaders in their NAACP chapters and churches.
That was - and is - the norm in my family. That was - and is - the norm in this city. But it’s not something we get to hear about everyday, and we should.
I want you to stop for a moment and think about your uncles, fathers, cousins and brothers. If you want to see more black men and boys in Philadelphia inspiring others to do good, nominate them at BMEChallenge.org by Friday, September 30. You can do what I can not, recognize their efforts in the community, while they are living.