Last night was Nehemiah’s #Man-Up Reunion!!
Back in 2009, my dissertation on fatherlessness led me to research the impact of mass incarceration on Black families. I interviewed Jerome Dillard, who began to tutor me about the needs of Black men and women returning home from prison ~ and the evil systems that benefit from mass incarceration of our men! I asked Jerome to help me create a place where Black men returning to our community could share their dreams (not just struggles)—a place where I could hear those dreams and share them with the rest of the community. In spring of 2010, the creation of our weekly Man-Up Group resulted. These brothers taught me the little bit of what I know about reentry for formerly incarcerated Black men. This group stills meets weekly to this day!!!
These men were militant, angry, hopeless and alienated. Their crimes ranged from sexual offenses to fraud to drug trafficking to murder. They served time in local jails, state prisons and federal penitentiaries. What I discovered ~ and they remembered ~ was that none of this is who they dreamed of becoming. Nor was this who they really were. We rediscovered (explored…found…and reclaimed) who these men really are: sons, dads, uncles, grandfathers, entrepreneurs, athletes, veterans, leaders — strong Black men.
I was so impressed by the leadership capabilities of this group of men that I hired a professional life coach to train and certify six of our men as Reentry Coaches — a term we coined. I ended up hiring many of these men to work on our staff, as a result. This was the true impetus for Nehemiah’s reentry programming.
I have tremendous love and respect for these brothers. They have become friends and colleagues and members of my staff. I have attended rallies with them. I have traveled with them. Some of these men have helped my mother move after a fire. These resilient leaders are visionaries, implementers, coaches, supervisors, facilitators, over-comers and advocates.
I am soliciting the support of some of these men in helping me create awareness, conversations, practices, strategic alliances, and platforms which will help to chip away at the horrific and expensive mass incarceration phenomenon that Wisconsin owns and benefits from.
Please click below to find out how to join Nehemiah’s wonderful efforts in serving formerly incarcerated men and women who are returning to our community every week.