Blog Entry Capacity Building

Dr. Robert Simmons, New CBMA VP of Strategy and Innovation

This month, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement officially announced the appointment of Dr. Robert Simmons as Vice President of Strategy & Innovation. Dr. Simmons comes with a diverse experience of curriculum development, cultivating community partnerships and navigating school systems in the BMA space, including most recently serving as the Chief of Innovation & Research for D.C. Public Schools where he launched their Empowering Males of Color (EMOC) initiative. 

In light of the tragic police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota -- and reflecting on the upcoming anniversaries of Sandra Bland's and Eric Garner's deaths -- Dr. Simmons shared his own thoughts and reflections about working in this unique space at such a profound moment of urgency for our nation. 

Last week, while sitting in front of the television, my five-year-old son turned to me and asked, “Daddy, why are all those people out in the street?” As I thought of the words I could use to tell him what was happening across the country, I began to cry. I cried because I was angry. I cried because I was sad. I cried for the families in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, and because I couldn’t come up with the words to explain to my son what was going on.

I found myself dealing with a collection of feelings and emotions that are not new to me -- feelings of helplessness as a father; of concern for Black people; and of sadness for the United States. I felt this way during my first years as a classroom teacher in Detroit, the first time I learned that my father had been incarcerated for the majority of my life, and when I learned that four of my favorite students had graduated from the University of Michigan and obtained meaningful employment. The fact is my professional and personal journeys have always taken place at the intersection of sadness, outrage and excitement. Sadness at the world that I must help my African American son navigate. Outrage at systems that seem to forget our humanity. And excitement at the significant successes that emanate from so many Black communities in the U.S. that are discussed in small circles yet dismissed in larger ones.

It is with these feelings and emotions that I join the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) team -- as a learner, a teacher, a servant leader, and especially as a father of Black boys, including one on the way in October. I am in this space standing on the shoulders of those who have come before me, as well as alongside the CBMA team and those of you reading this message who are partners with CBMA.

I’ve committed to this work to contribute to the greater good, and to the ongoing efforts to improve the life outcomes of Black men and boys. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves even more and digging deep with all of you.

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