By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ten “community builders” from Philadelphia were awarded $100,000 in grants and inducted into a national network that celebrates Black male community leaders during a ceremony this week at the African American Museum.
Made up of more than 12,000 men from around the country, The Black Male Engagement Community — or BME– gave $400,000 this year to 43 men in five cities, including Detroit and Baltimore, with 10 honorees in Philadelphia.
“Everyone of these men has made a vow to believe that Black men are assets, to value all people, to reject narratives that denigrate people and to reject narratives that benefit people and to work together for the greater community,” says Trabian Shorters, CEO of the BME Community.
The inductees include folks like Otis Bullock, who runs Diversified Community Services in South Philadelphia. A trained attorney, Bullock and his wife, Donna, decided to raise their sons in Strawberry Mansion to serve as role models for the neighborhood where he grew up.
“The way to raise up your community is to come back and to not run away — I take that as my motto as my beacon,” he says.
“The dream is real, the dream is real,” says Mont Brown, who is a rapper artist and humanitarian. The 28-year-old leads the hip-hop group “The Astronauts,” which performed at TLA this week. But in addition to his music, he hosts events aimed at reducing community violence.
Now he’s part of the growing BME network.
“I lost my father to violence, I lost my best friend to violence, I’m just trying to change that cycle up,” he says.
The new inductees include folks like Nehemiah Davis, an author and entrepreneur who raised more than $100,000 to help youth in West Philadelphia; Sulaiman Rahman of the Urban Philly Professional Network, who stated the #BlackVotersMatter movement to engage young, Black voters in Philadelphia; and Tracey Fisher of Gateway to Reentry, who works tirelessly to help returning citizens.
“We’ll be using the funds that we won from BME to do after school programming, school readiness and also STEM readiness,” says Marvin Dutton, who created a mobile tutoring service for inner city kids.
The BME Community was started by the Knight Foundation, and has inducted more than 140 leaders since 2012.