Message from the CEO

"Black boys became criminalized. I was in constant dread for their lives, because they were targets everywhere. They still are." Toni Morrison, Renowned Author

Cities United: 

The Journey Continues

As the above quote from our recently-departed sister, the legendary author Toni Morrison, so powerfully captures, far too many of America's Black boys and young men are haunted by the constant threat of violence and criminalization in their own neighborhoods and communities.

Since the Campaign for Black Male Achievement's founding in 2008, this stark and urgent reality has continuously driven and informed our mission to conceive, seed and establish initiatives at the local, state and national levels focused on improving the life outcomes and trajectories of our Black men and boys. 

Key among those initiatives is Cities United, which CBMA proudly helped launch in 2011 in partnership with Casey Family ProgramsAssociation of Black Foundation ExecutivesNational League of Cities and former Mayors Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans.

Cities United's mission is to help mayors across the country increase opportunities for awareness, action, advocacy, and accountability to eradicate gun violence in their cities. The organization provides planning and implementation support via sharing best practices, instituting innovative approaches, and understanding how and where to reconfigure resources. The members of Cities United hold each other accountable for achieving results, calling on Federal support while asking members of the community to get involved as well.

Under the leadership of its CEO Anthony Smith, Cities United has grown into a national movement focused on eliminating gun violence specifically impacting Black men and boys by the year 2025. Of the more 100 mayors participating in Cities United, all have declared their commitment to reducing homicides in their cities by 50 percent. Furthermore, these municipal leaders are dedicated to restoring hope to their communities and building pathways to justice, employment, education, and increased opportunities for their residents.

On August 21-23, nearly 500 intergenerational cross-sector leaders will gather in Hampton, VA for Cities United’s annual national convening, the theme for which is The Journey Continues: Reflect, Renew, Respond.

This year’s convening will commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival onto the shores of nearby Hampton Beach.

As a long-time partner and supporter of Cities United, CBMA will be contributing to this year’s convening experience in various ways, including: 

  • Hosting a special showing of the short film The Look and youth panel discussion around the #TalkAboutBias campaign sponsored by partner Proctor & Gamble, which explores the myriad ways that implicit racial bias effects Black communities
  • Facilitating one of the special Equity Dinners on August 22nd, where CBMA will share about the expansion of the Black Male Equity Initiative, which we launched in partnership with Torch Enterpriseslast year in Detroit. The dinner will also include an unveiling of the Detroit Black Male Equity Anthology.

We are encouraged by the tremendous energy, spirit and community that will be present at this year’s convening. If you’ll be in attendance, we welcome and urge you to join the CBMA and Cities United teams for the above activations. You can also engage the activities and conversations online by following the hashtags #CitiesUnited, #TheJourneyContinues and #LoveLearnLead.


Shawn Dove, Chief Executive Officer

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