I was blessed to be one of many hundreds of men and women in attendance at the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s 9th annual Rumble Young Man Rumble event at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville Kentucky. This gathering in the words of it’s CEO Shawn Dove ‘has evolved into the premier gathering of movement-building intergenerational, cross-sector leaders in the Black male achievement space.’

The audience at this year's gathering was a great representation of the men and women who are fighting the fight and battling real issues all across the country, to improve the life outcomes of our Black men and boys. I met and spoke people like Kenderick Wilson, Gerald Donaldson and Dr. Mia Williams from Seattle Public Schools and also with Brenda March down in Orlando Florida.

While taking the opportunity to fellowship with other attendees, I met several people who I’ve maybe seen on Twitter and shared a tweet with. But what I didn’t anticipate or expect was meeting and talking with several men and women, who introduced themselves and told me about how impactful my work with Trailblazers.FM was for them. That really lifted my spirits and reminded me of the significance of the Trailblazers.FM podcast.

In fact, Rev Alfonso Wyatt planted words in my mind during the end of the morning’s spirituality session, saying we must ‘elevate our plain, our remain the same’. I thought about those words throughout much of the day, as I am in a present state of thinking about what must begin to happen to take these projects of mine higher in this next year and over this new decade.

In addition to the networking, we received a healthy dose of mission fuel throughout the day from several amazing speakers, including Mayor Ras Baraka, Dr. Pamela Jolly, Leila Entezam, Dr. Wizdom Powell, Dr. Jawanza Kunfuju, and Jason Wilson.

While I wasn’t able to hear all the speakers, these four talks were so insightful and each of these speakers left an indelible mark with their words:


Mayor Ras J. Baraka – @rasjbaraka

I’d never heard Mayor Ras J. Baraka (City of Newark, NJ) speak before, but his words at barely 9am quickly provoked thought and got me up faster than my cup of coffee.

Here are just a few quotes I captured:

“Being WOKE doesn’t mean you’re not enslaved”
“We must be WOKE and informed”
“Begin to build the things we say we need to see”
“Don’t wait for others to come, build it yourself”
“Stop waiting for someone to save you. Stop waiting for someone to give you a table. You were born to be great. Stop waiting for someone to publish your book. Publish your own book!”

I was reminded that we too often have opinions and ideas. But we must begin to read, learn and fill up with the right information so we can empower others.


Dr. Pamela Jolly @pamelajolly

I first heard Dr. Pamela Jolly (Torch Enterprises) at RYMR7 and I’d since had Dr. Jolly on the podcast twice, but still found her talk at RYMR9 so powerful.

She began by talking about confidence and our need to have belief in oneself, in our abilities and our future.

She reminded me once again of the importance of leaving a legacy, and the need to shift our focus and perspective from the Business of YOU to the Business of US.

Just a couple of the many quotes that stood out to me by Dr. Jolly:

“A Black man in America is an inheritor of a 400 year legacy of being a wealth creator”
“A man can only see as far as he can afford”
“Your Wealth depends on how you value your human, intellectual, cultural, social and spiritual capital.”

Most importantly, Dr. Jolly talked about releasing our fear and our need to fail faster, reminding us that we must get through some of the failures now and find the ways that work, so the next generation doesn’t have to experience those failures that we should have, in order for them to move ahead.


Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu – @AfrAmerImages

If I thought Mayor Baraka’s words were provoking, I certainly wasn’t ready for Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu (African American Images).

He spoke about illiteracy being the pre-cursor to incarceration.

Here are a few of Dr. Kunjufu’s thoughts I captured:

“They’ve never picked up a book they could never put down”
“We need to give our boys books where they see themselves”
“If the student has not learned, then the teacher has not taught”
For black boys – “There can be no significant learning, until there is a significant relationship”
“3 most critical grade levels are kindergarten, 4th grade, and 9th grade”
“Up to 3rd grade, you’re learning how to read, but from 4th grade on, you have to read to learn / comprehend.”

My takeaway from his talk was that our school systems are old and we need to consider moving away from teaching boys and girls in one learning style and a single gender environment, to teaching the way the child wants to learn.  So creating a myriad of learning styles that are better suited for Black boys.


Jason Wilson – @mrjasonowilson

Jason Wilson is the author of Cry Like a Man. He’s also the founder of Cave of Adullam Tranformational Training Academy.

Jason closed out the day sharing a very personal story about his own health transformation, going from nearly having a heart attack to losing a ton of weight by simply beginning to rest. He shared that Black men are not resting and that we should at the very least be sleeping 7 hours a day, getting our mental health right by seeking therapy / counseling and doing what we need to do so we can be there for our families in the long run.

“If we don't take time to rest, life will rest us in peace”
“The worst thing we can do is EVERYTHING!”

That quote shook me to my core. I’m someone who’s always working, always doing, and that reminder had me feeling like I was the only person in the room that Jason was speaking to.


Most impactful at RYMR9 is always seeing our Flyweights, our young boys who attend Rumble each year. I met a couple young men who were in Louisville, I saw brother Jason Wilson counseling another during his talk, and I heard another young man, King, share an amazing poem and speech. It’s a reminder that we must keep fighting, keep doing all we can to provide our next generation of Black boys and men a better America than the one we see today.

Thanks to Shawn Dove, Steve Vassor, and the entire CBMA family for another amazing event. What I learned and experienced at this event will help to inform and impact my life’s decisions in the years ahead. Thank you for that.

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement has been the sponsoring partner of the Trailblazers.FM podcast since 2017.

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