2017 Men of Courage Forum in Chicago
Men of Courage will hold its 2017 forum in Chicago on Jan. 16, MLK Day, for 65 Black men to come together to change how they view themselves and how others see them.
The forum “connects a diverse group of Black men from local communities with a growing list of renowned advocates and celebrities. Together, these groups seek to support one another and align to build relationships in an effort to help improve the perception of African-American men in society. Participants are involved in numerous storytelling, design thinking, commitment and action-mapping activities.”
Many notable Black men will be in attendance at the Chicago forum to include former Detroit mayor Dave Bing, Detroit Lions player DeAndre Levy, New York Times best-selling author and activist Shaka Senghor, founder of Global Automotive Group Bill Packard and Michigan State Rep. Jewell Jones.
Men of Courage, founded in 2014, was created as a collaboration between the Ford Motor Company Fund, Big Sean and former mayor Bing to change the narrative about Black men.
The manager of multicultural and community engagement for the Ford Motor Company Fund, Shawn Wilson, believes the organization is a great opportunity for dialogue among African-American men who often have diverse backgrounds and experiences.
“Black men are very diverse, which is why Big Sean and Mayor Bing are seen as generational bookends that could bring a bright group of Black men together. We bring them together and we take them through a three-part process of, one, storytelling and vision boarding where they create the vision of who they and Black men actually are and what success looks like,” Wilson said.
“We wanted to help challenge and ultimately advance the narrative of African-American men in the United States, primarily using storytelling as a powerful tool because we know that storytelling helps to invoke empathy. It changes the way you view and think about African-American men, which then changes the way you act towards them. The second piece was to find solutions and publish solutions to help. And then, action mapping, and that’s where they focus on solutions and make commitments to carry out those solutions.”
In addition to hosting the Chicago forum, the organization has created a virtual toolkit that can be downloaded on the organization’s website. For those unable to attend, MOC wants them to register and host gatherings in their homes, churches or schools on MLK Day to launch the Men of Courage ToolKit. Nationally, MOC expects thousands of Black men to come together virtually as part of the forum. MOC national ambassadors have been working tirelessly around the country to get men to participate. They Van Jones, Hill Harper, Troy Carter and Jerome Bettis.
Wilson said the ToolKit will walk men through the three steps of storytelling, execution and vision boarding in order for them to tell what they want the true narrative of Black men and success to be.
“We really want to take over media, social media and digital media and really bombard the airwaves and the digital media with positive images of Black men working together and creating strategies, laughing, crying and having fun. Showing Black men coming together for solutions. That’s the first step,” Wilson said.
“The second step is to really help to better reflect Martin Luther King and what he was all about on his day. If you think about it, those three pieces are what he embodied. He was a great storyteller, a man of vision and, more importantly, he was a man of action, and that’s what we’re hoping to replicate. Finally, we’re hoping to come up with solutions nationally and really empower Black men to take control of their narrative and their future.”
The 2017 Men of Courage Forum is full, but to participate virtually, visit menofcourge.com/toolkit.