Looking Forward, In Gratitude


“i see a world where hatred has been replaced by love, and ME replaced by WE” --Assata Shakur, Assata

As many of you know, CBMA CEO Shawn Dove officially announced that I will leave my present position as VP for Communications effective at the end of today, October 6, 2017, to serve as the inaugural Chief Marketing and Storytelling Officer at Color of Change. Shawn, and many of those close to me, can attest to the deep thought and reflection that went into this decision, which has been one of the hardest of my professional career.

First, I want to publicly uplift and thank Shawn, not only for his support and affirmation of my decision, but for the friendship and brotherhood we have shared for nearly nine years. My tenure with CBMA began on March 23, 2009, as a Program Officer at the Open Society Foundations. Throughout those initial years and since CBMA's independent launch from OSF in January 2015, my hope and desire has always been to support Shawn's vision to build a field and movement that is committed to improving life outcomes for Black men and boys. 

My daily mantra to Shawn was “I have your back.” I would like to believe that my mission to support Shawn, the CBMA team, and BMA field as a whole has been accomplished abundantly.

As CBMA comes up on its 10-year anniversary, I leave my role deeply reflecting on CBMA’s impact under Shawn's visionary leadership and the unwavering commitment and support of a dedicated team. Since 2008 we have grown from what was originally intended to be only a three-year $15 million campaign, to a campaign with no time limits and over $100 million in investments. We've launched innumerable programs, including BMA Funders, the first ever Echoing Green Black Male Achievement fellowship for social entrepreneurs, and the New York Young Men’s Initiative. Our partnership with 26 national and local foundations helped to seed the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. I am also proud of CBMA's early role in providing support to University of Chicago Professor Cathy Cohen to help the Black Youth Project as it emerged as a leader in the movement for Black lives.

Of course, there is the vital role that CBMA and our partners played to help develop what would become President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative in 2013. In fact, some might consider this representative of our organization's greatest impact, but I believe that the future of CBMA actually holds the greatest promise. 

The most meaningful part of this work for me has been our commitment to communications. We literally shifted the atmosphere in philanthropy to a climate where foundations see the value in supporting narrative and culture change. In partnership with Perception Institute, Opportunity Agenda, BMe Community, and others, we helped change the narrative for Black men and boys from deficit to asset. 

The power of using stories and narrative change to build cultural power has been at the heart of the work I have been privileged to lead and collaborate on in my professional career over the past two decades.

Though I have always known I would someday move on to share my talents, skills, and gifts in new ways, I never knew when that day would come. This new role with Color of Change, an organization at the forefront of empowering Black people to take action and end the inequity they face, affirms my journey of using communications to tell stories and support culture change for Black people.

I am excited and honored to join Color of Change in this new role at such a critical time in our country. Amidst the President of the United States' continued failure to adequately address the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the recent display of White Supremacist actions in Charlottesville, VA, and renewed attacks on Colin Kaepernick and other athletes for using their 1st Amendment right to peacefully protest the violence enacted on Black and Brown people at the hands of police, the leadership of organizations like CBMA and Color of Change are needed now more than ever.

On this last day at CBMA, I would like to start by thanking the entire CBMA staff, including my colleagues Janet A. Dickerson and Whitney Buggs, who will continue to lead CBMA's strategic communications work through my transition. I am thankful to Alvin Starks, Sherrilyn Ifill, Geoffrey Canada, George Soros, Ann Beeson, Herbert Sturz, Aryeh Neier, Diana Morris, Chris Stone, Bryan Stevenson, Leslie Gross-Davis, Ken Zimmerman and all of the leadership at OSF for their support of CBMA and me. I am deeply thankful to Raquiba LaBrie for her advocacy for me to join OSF. I am forever indebted to the community that surrounded me with support, inspiration and love; Alexis McGill Johnson, Alisha Cowan-Vieira, Loira Limbal, Marcus Littles, Bradford Young, Stephanie Etienne, Robert Perez, Haki Madhubuti, Haile Gerima, Michael Latt, Ryan Coogler, Zinzi Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Pastor Michael McBride, Dante Barry, Kevin Ryan, Samora Pinderhughes, Nicole Mitchell, David Kelly, Bakari Kitwana, Rashad Robinson, Hank Willis Thomas, Danielle Green, Lucia Mattox, Steve Vassor, Bayeté Ross Smith, Will Sylvester, Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Ayana Enomoto-Hurst, Andrew Wolk, Eric Grimes, Jameelah Morris, Benjapon Jivasantikarn, Anand Dholakia, Angela Glover Blackwell, Josh Kirschenbaum, Glenda Johnson, Milly Hawk Daniel, Jamilah Lemieux, Kierna Mayo, Rosa Clemente, asha bandele, Susan Taylor, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Ronald Lee Newman, Damon Hewitt, Julia Beatty, Khephra Burns, Susan Taylor Batten, Marcus Walton, Antoinette Malveaux, Toya Randall, Kamal Sinclair, Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Arthur Jafa, Shawn Peters, Deborah Willis, Sharda Sekaran, Trabian Shorters, Dr. Robert “Biko” Baker, Dr. Emmett Carson, Loren Harris, Rahsaan Harris, Kavitha Mediratta, Dennis Alghrim, Dorian Burton, Dr. Bobby Austin, Anthony Smith, Leon Andrews, Joshua DuBois, Marc Philpart. Ray Colmenar, Melanie Brown, Maisha Simmons, Greg Hodge, Cheo Tyehimba Taylor, Na’imah Delpeche, Ayesha Delpeche, Malikah Delpeche, Nicole Delpeche, Mustafa Shabazz, George Bumbray, Sherry Bellamy, Cecily Bumbray, George “Paco” Bumbray, Miles Bumbray, Malik Bellamy, FM Supreme, Phyllis Hubbard, Michael Skolnik, Bilen Mesfin, Debayani Kar, Khaleaph Luis, Amir Eftekhari, Allen Penn, Simone Leigh, Sala Cyril, Imani Uzuri, Austin Greene, Little Maroons, Wendy Cole, The Maple Street School, Elissa Blount Moorhead, Dan Roth, Shirley McAlpine, Ann Marie Elley, Toti Little, Estrus Tucker, Dani McClain, Mia Herndon, Allison Brown, Shantrelle Lewis, Ed Oliver, Adrienne Almeida, Erica Atwood, Alan Jenkins, Kirsten Levingston, Orlando Bagwell, Terrence Pitts, Rev. Alfonso Wyatt, Rev. Shareka Newton, Kirk Henny, Grace Sato, Seema Shah, Darren Walker, Dr. Robert Ross, Tonya Allen, Dr. William Bell, Ryan Jean-Baptiste, Thomas Richards, Ron Walker, David Banks, Debra Rubino, A. Nic Campbell, Chipp Winston, Adepero Oduye, Imar Hutchins, Chad Dennis, Baratunde Thurston, Tyneshia McHarris, Blackout for Human Rights, and others I have not captured here but who have prayed and sent light and love, Thank You. I especially thank and shout out my beautiful and amazing wife, Rashida Bumbray, our daughter and all of our family for the patience and love they have shown as I have carried this work and as I now make this transition. My continued gratitude and love to my mother, Marcia Shabazz and father, Omar Shabazz who continue to pour into me and planted the seed of love for Black people and Black culture.

Thank you to God, the ancestors and Orisha. for covering and protecting me on this life journey and for blessing the work in ways that I could have never imagined or dreamed. I have truly been blessed to be a blessing. To my godmother Adenike Sharpley and her godmother Mama Rosa and to my godbrothers and godsisters – Modupe (Thank You).

I close by saying that I love Shawn and I love CBMA, and I believe love does make change happen. Thank you to Shawn, the CBMA board, and all of our members for the opportunity to serve you. While I will not be directly involved with CBMA every day, I will continue to be a champion, friend, ally, comrade, and member. The work of CBMA is only beginning. I am faithful and confident that we have built an organization that is ready for the long-term fight ahead. I believe that the right people are in place to carry the fight for our young men and our community forward.

In love and deep gratitude,