The narrative of Black men is one of resilience and triumph in the midst of challenge and oppression. In “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding,” we hear from 40 men including John Legend, Rev. Al Sharpton, Van Jones, Isiah Thomas and Talib Kwali. The 2015 book was edited by former NAACP president and CEO, Ben Jealous, author Trabian Shorters and has a foreword by Russell Simmons.
For Jealous, growing up in a home with positive uplifting stories of Black men and women was a norm. His grandparents who were born slaves would share stories of his ancestors and his parents would tell him bedtime stories about their fight with the NAACP during the Jim Crow era.
“Their stories and the dreams they inspired started me on my oath toward leadership,” says Jealous in the introduction of the book.
He writes, “This is a book of everyday heroes. It is a collection of men known and unknown, most of whom have grown up since desegregation, all of whom have faced challenge, and all of whom have lived their lives in ways that are relevant to each of us. It is offered as a gift of gifts: each man featured in these pages sat down with us to tell his story so that it could be combined with the stories of others and handed down from parents, godparents, aunts and uncles, older brothers and peers to young men seeking to find their way.”