I took a course for small business owners last fall and, in explaining to my classmates that I had yet to attract many men to my media institute programs in nearly three years, someone asked why was that the case.
I shrugged. “Probably because they’re watching football,” I replied.
Well, I’m happy to say that a whole lot of men defied my sexist response and showed up last night for my first BND Institute of Media and Culture program of the year, “A Black Man’s Quilt.” The standing-room only event featured Robert L. Dortch, Jr., a minister, philanthropist, executive coach, poet, photographer, fraternity brother, father and more. Some might even call him a Renaissance Man.
During his one-hour presentation, Robert led us on an intimate journey of his life, art, journaling and family. He explored concepts of love and masculinity. He went there with his own failings and feelings. He described his son’s anguished cry the night of the Trayvon Martin verdict. He gave his take on Kobe, Gayle and Snoop. He left many of us pondering our own capacities and humaneness. He gave us ….hope.
Author and motivational speaker Stacy Hawkins Adams, a powerhouse in her own right, did an excellent job interviewing Robert, wielding questions that kept the audience engaged and feasting on his every word. Kym Grinnage, truly a blessing of a friend, provided introductions that only he can deliver with aplomb and panache. Head cheerleader and program sponsor Teshana Gipson rallied moms and dads by encouraging them to send their offspring to my summer media camp June 15-26 at Virginia Union University. Mr. Michael Harvey“Debonair” Harvey, who always supports my programs with a check and a smile, was there as usual, quietly saying “I got you.” Please know that none of this would have been possible without the work and support of Kimberly Wilson, whose very presence reassured me that I no longer have to toil alone as I work to present unique programming honoring African Americans in Richmond. What an honor to work with this woman who, like me (and Stacy Hawkins Adams), has a string of job titles and manages to seamlessly balance them all. I am forever grateful to her. A huge shout out and thank you to Renee Johnson for bringing members of the Richmond Chapter of Jack and Jill to serve as hosts and hostesses, and for her amazing graphic design skills. My other brother, Darrel Johnson of TidBit catering, is to be commended for delivering a delicious menu when I called him just a few days in advance. Thanks also to Adele Johnson, Faithe M. Norrell and Mary Lauderdale at Richmond’s Black History Museum of History and Culture. Bravo, ladies! And a special salute to all the brothers who proved me wrong. Thanks for showing up and showing out. All, please remember to check out Robert’s photography at Urban Hang Suite through mid-March.
Bonnie Newman Davis