The recent Black Men’s Legacy Summit featured a powerful group of panelists and moderators. The Oct. 29 event in North Minneapolis showcased Black men who are widely respected and highly knowledgeable in their disciplines, as well as many being dynamic speakers.
The Summit, held at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, opened with remarks by BuildWealth MN’s David McGee and Jeff Robinson. They were followed by Rev. Alford Babington of the Stairstep Foundation and Trent Bowman of Midwest One Bank. They addressed the question: Why are we here?
Their remarks then led to a sit-down pen-and-paper session with Dr. Mahmoud El-Kati—one of the more renowned and respected historians in the world—giving a profound presentation titled “How did we get Here?”
Dr. El-Kati set the tone—any conversation following him would have to be outstanding and the panelists would not disappoint. The theme of the day was “Reclaiming Control of our Future” to which all panelists spoke powerfully throughout the event. The topics ranged from history and the relationship with faith to the power of land equity.
McGee, who spoke on land and homeownership equity, had this to say: “Black women outpace Black men in homeownership, employment, and other sectors. We felt it was important to bring Black men together to pour into and help them—us—reclaim our rightful place in the home and our community.”
Asked about the impact of the event and whether it should be an annual gathering, Rev. Babington, a keynote panelist, replied with a smile, “I think it should be a daily event. But an annual affair for sure.”
He further touched on what made this dialogue so powerful: “The spirit of this event permeates knowledge, the clarity of our history, and the framing of the vision for us to move forward together. We simply cannot do this alone—one segment of our community can’t do this. We need our entire community to implement the necessary changes that are needed.”
Rev. Babington continued, “I thank God that there is a focus here on Black men. But know that the community is all of us—male, female, young, and old. But this recognition speaks to the fact that the Black male in particular has historically been pushed aside by this society.
“So this intentional reclaiming of the Black male voice is so important. The Bible teaches us that if you bind the strong man of the house you can effectively bind the house.
I believe the scripture is Mark 3:27, ‘No one can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods unless he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.’ Effectively this is what has systematically happened to our Black men. It’s time for us to reclaim our houses.”
Walter “Q Bear” Banks, another community staple himself with KMOJ, was in attendance and shared his observations. “This is the first time that I’ve seen this kind of energy—mind you, I was born and raised here in Minneapolis. But this is the first time I’ve seen a summit that historically channeled the legacy through our history to what our future can become through the voices of Black men.”
As Banks continued he also made clear that the quality of the guest speakers was more than just a lofty list of names. “We had a group of men with something to say. A group of experts with believable perspectives and ideas. It was easy to get motivated by what was being said. They were in unison with their messages, and to be able to interact after the event is also invaluable.
“I got the call from Anika Robbins of ANIKA & Friends; my hat is off to her team for producing this outstanding event. There is no question that this should be an annual event.”
Robbins, producer and lead strategist for the event, also shared her thoughts. “By all accounts, this was the first time an event of this nature—this magnitude—has taken place in the Twin Cities, an event wholly centered on empowering and building up Black men. Attendees heard from Black thought leaders on employment, entrepreneurship, health, real estate investments, and more.”
To those who may have thought the men’s summit would appeal mostly to men, business owner Jacqueline Wheeler of Abundant Catering said she was glad she decided to attend. “This was a great event. I thought it would be open to everyone—women and men. But this group of men was very powerful and I’m so glad that I came,” she said.
Other noted panelists included: Pastor Andre Dukes, Bishop David Johnson, Rev. Jerry McAfee, Diamond Levy, Nick Muhammad, Demitri McGee, Gayle Smaller, Tre Adams, Greg Cunningham, Cameron Perket, Tim Farrow, Al McFarlane, Louis King, Warren McLean, Irene Ruiz-Briseno, Joe Abraham, Kevin L. Gilliam II, MD, and Bishop Richard D. Howell, who participated via video message.
Al Brown is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.