Ben Jealous, Trabian Shorters on black male empowerment tour with new book, 'REACH'

Ben Jealous Trabian Shorters-1
Jeff Johnson is flanked by ‘REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding’ co-authors Trabian Shorters and Ben Jealous

Benjamin Todd Jealous and Trabian Shorters launched their national tour for their inspirational literary project, REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding in Atlanta on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, with a book signing at Barnes & Noble and an intriguing discussion moderated by Jeff Johnson and later a panel discussion at Morehouse College, titled “Reaching for Our Youth.”

REACH, the book, is a timely and thought-provoking dialogue that features 40 first-person accounts from well-known men like Rev. Al Sharpton, John Legend, Isiah Thomas, Bill T. Jones, Louis Gossett Jr. and Talib Kweli, alongside influential community organizers, businessmen, religious leaders, philanthropists and educators.

Following the discussion at the book signing, Shorters reveals the top five men who reached for him and left the biggest impact.

“My grandfather, he was a minister who taught love. My uncle Charles, he was a soldier who raised his family. Richard Swoop, who was the former gangster who decided to teach about commitment to your family. Charles Hamilton Houston was the man who killed Jim Crow the first time it came up. And then people like Van Jones, Ben Jealous, Shaka Singur and the men who are trying to kill this generation’s Jim Crow.”

Next, Jealous reveals his top five men.

“My grandfather, he taught me how to fish. My father because he taught me how to keep innovating your life as you move through it. Jack Greenberg, who was Thurgood Marshall’s NAACP successor for the Legal Defense Fund, because he got me started in civil rights. Julian Bond … because he saw promise in me and ultimately encouraged me to become the president of the NAACP. And Judge [Robert] Bob Watts … he was one of the first Black judges in Baltimore, who, when I was a young child with a bad stutter, when he saw me would greet me by saying ‘Boy, what do you want to argue about?’ and force me to master the art of argument and even just speaking.”

Jealous and Shorters contributed to the discussion at Morehouse alongside panelists Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; Stacey Abrams, Georgia House Minority Leader; John Silvanus Wilson, president of Morehouse College; and Lamman Rucker, actor and activist.

“There’s a humility that has to come with self-empowerment,” Rucker tells the Morehouse audience of 20 pre-selected students and media as he explains why we must unite and not segregate based on wealth or class.

The conversation highlighted the need for more positive African American male role models and offered strategies for the community to unite on education and economic empowerment issues.

The REACH kick off concluded with a private reception at the Wilsons’ private residence where he pledged to provide copies of the book for the upcoming Morehouse freshman class. Jealous and Shorters expressed their gratitude for Morehouse’s support and JPMorgan Chase for sponsoring the REACH tour.

REACH will impact NY, DC and LA next with additional cities to follow.

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