The Urban Congress on African American Males, a strategic initiative of Baton Rouge nonprofit, MetroMorphosis, hosted its fourth annual General Convening, on Saturday April 13 at the McKinley Alumni Center in Baton Rouge. The theme of the convening, “The Village Renewed,” was attributed to the continued pursuit of partnership and collaboration in the work of transforming social systems that negatively impact African American males in Baton Rouge. The Convening featured speeches from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
During a 40-minute keynote to the 100+ attendees, Benjamin Evans, co-founder and National Fellowship Director of BMe Community, said, “To define a person by their challenges is the definition of stigmatizing.” He also stressed the importance of urban communities taking ownership of telling the positive stories often missed in mainstream outlets. “You have to influence the storytelling. If you can’t influence the storyteller, create the storyteller,” he said. BMe Community is a national movement of people of all races and genders dedicated to building more caring and prosperous communities together.
The centralizing moment of the Convening occurred when delegates of the Urban Congress took part in “Charting The Movement”. For more than an hour delegates brainstormed, visioned and scripted plans for the future of the work. They were tasked with creating hypothetical future news headlines that would tell the story of their work accomplished two years from the present.
The annual convening also featured a panel discussion from the moderators of the Urban Congress’ “Barbershop Talk” series, a celebration of the year’s work and a special award presentation to Jasiri Basel, founder of The CEO Mind Foundation, who was honored as the 2019 Urban Congress PaceSetter Award Recipient.
The Convening was a continuation of the Urban Congress’ monthly work group meetings held at the McKinley Alumni Center where dedicated community members gather in self-selected working groups to generate strategies designed to enhance the quality of life for African-American men and boys in Baton Rouge. Work groups vary from public policy to workforce engagement to educational outcomes to financial literacy/entrepreneurship, and are centered around specific goals to aid the Urban Congress’ mission of establishing long term, systemic progress towards enriching the state of African-American males in Baton Rouge.
Feature photo is of Benjamin Evans, Co-Founder and National Director at BMe Community, served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 Urban Congress on African American Males General Convening. Photo by Perry Productions