Above, friend and brother Ben Jealous, former CEO of the NAACP, speaks in a candid session with Just Brothers Members in Atlanta, in November of 2015.
The concept for Just Brothers emerged from the conclusion that some of the very smartest, brightest, and most accomplished African-American men, really don’t ‘know’ each other. Not in ways that matter most. Not when it comes to building and developing deep, authentic, open and truly engaged relationships.
We see each other out at public and invitation-only events, and charity and community events — but we don’t ‘know’ each other.
We shake hands, and we talk about our careers and jobs, but we don’t ‘know’ each other.
We talk about opportunity, but seldom with each other – because we don’t ‘know’ to trust each other.
We wave from across the room, and we send each other holiday cards, but we don’t ‘know’ each other.
We talk at each other, but rarely with each other — in a state of vulnerability — because we don’t really ‘know’ each other.
There’s no real relationship. And as a result of that, we not only keep each other at arm’s length, worse still we either don’t trust many, or we treat everything with a degree of distant formality. And the real loser here is not the guy across the room, whom we really don’t know. It’s ourselves. Because we have not only robbed ourselves of the true value of a real and trusted friend and friendship, we are keeping so much of ourselves, to ourselves.
We often end up trusting no one, and opening up to no one. This is just not healthy, nor can you build up either yourself or community this way.
Just Brothers was developed by me and a group of leaders from Atlanta, inspired originally by a thought by Mrs. Natasha Bryant. The organizing of Just Brothers is an effort to end this breach of ‘the spirit.’
The 2014 and 2015 seasons of Just Brothers exceeded all expectations, and we are honored to roll out a rich and substantive plan for 2016 to Members of Just Brothers.
Membership in Just Brothers is by invitation-only, and the Coordinating Committee for Just Brothers consist of entrepreneur Thomas Dortch, national small business advocate Cassius Butts, and public service leaders (the Honorable) Ceasar Mitchell and John Eaves, and of course myself.
Many of the photos from historic Just Brothers Member Meetings will be made public soon, including the last public meeting with anyone, featuring legendary entrepreneur and community builder, the legendary and late Mr. Herman J. Russell.