A festive call to action: BME enters phase two in Detroit

Wedding anniversaries and work events aren’t supposed to mix, right? Well, think again.

This past Tuesday evening, on our third wedding anniversary, my wife Anuja and I happily joined hundreds of other Detroiters at Ford Field to celebrate the inaugural class of BME.

BME (pronounced “Be Me”) is a city-wide initiative we at Knight Foundation launched over the summer to celebrate, connect and invest in black males who lead our city in big and small ways. Since August 1st, more than 1,000 black men and teenagers stepped up and shared stories of how they strengthen the community.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of members of this new “social network” gathered to connect with one another and share new ideas for a grant contest that begins next week.

Special guests included City Councilmen Charles Pugh and James Tate, who read a Council resolution saluting Knight and BME.  BMEers Lawrence “LJ” Jackson and K’Jon were there, too: LJ, who plays defensive end for our Detroit Lions, was a big hit with the crowd; K’Jon, a nationally-known artist who was raised in Detroit, performed on stage. Former NBA Star Jalen Rose, a BMEer who recently launched the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, gave this new community a shout-out via video.

Yes, we celebrated. But the BME network reflected, too, on its achievements to date and all that is to come. Pastor Darryl Redmond, our BME Detroit Coordinator, along with Knight Vice President Trabian Shorters, reminded us why engaging in community matters for our city and our country.

As for me and my wife? Well, even if K’Jon hadn’t dedicated one of his songs to us, we couldn’t imagine a more meaningful way to spend our evening.

Rishi Jaitly, program director/Detroit at Knight Foundation

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