BE MODERN MAN: On a Quest to Connect Young Black Men to Their African Heritage
BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN DIALLO SUMBRY
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
Being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees is a tremendous honor and means a great deal. I am immediately reminded of all the women and men that have poured the best of themselves into me as mentors, teachers, guides, peers, and students. I’m immediately reminded that I am not alone and this honor is a not only a tribute and testimony to my focus, discipline, and commitment to my family and community, but a testament to the power of family and community itself. I am a representation of the family and community that helped to make me who I am today.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
For me, the extraordinary impact is not in the big things but the small things. Most recently, I met a young man who told me he remembered me from his first day at college at the University of the District of Columbia. He reminded me of the story. He had just got out of prison and registering for college at UDC. He was lost, confused, and needed some help. He reminded me that I invited him to my office, counseled him, gave him my personal number, and assisted him throughout his first year. He thanked me and said he’ll never forget. He said he went on to have some additional challenges, but never gave up and is currently Mr. UDC and almost finished his bachelor’s degree. There are hundreds and probably thousands of young men and women who I’ve had the honor of helping over the past 20 years.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
My work mentoring young men and young fathers, although not my profession, is something that gives me joy. Also, helping other young men and peers find their way to their life’s work through conversation, travel and example is important me. My son is a young father and full scholarship jazz percussion major at The New School. My primary job is to continue to be a great example and support for him and my daughter who is a 4.0 student at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. I also have a ton of nephews and other young men in my community who I work with regularly teaching and modeling manhood and fatherhood.
In the future, I hope to take groups of young black men to Africa to visit and learn some of their cultural heritage, which I believe is a large missing piece to the puzzle in our quest as black people for recovering our stolen identity. I also believe it’s a big part of black empowerment globally.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I think struggle is relative and I can’t say I’ve ever really struggled. My mother is such a solider and warrior I didn’t know we were financially poor until I was much older. And I was always surrounded by the men in my family and my community so positive male role models were not in short supply. If I had to choose one thing, it would be growing up without my father. Despite having male role models, they weren’t my father. I was angry as young man. I took to introspection at 14/15 and started searching my soul for my life’s purpose. And although it took a while, I stayed the course. When I became a father, I decided that I would be the type of father I wanted for myself. I feel like more than anything I am a great father. Years later, I am actively involved with fathering and although still difficult at times, I am working to be sure we can better our relationship and make sure my children know their grandfather. Forgiveness is the business of blessings and mandatory in keeping yourself open for all God’s wishes and blessings.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am currently working with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Tourism Authority, and the office of Diaspora Affairs in the office of the President of the Republic of Ghana on a project coined The Year of Return, Ghana 2019 — a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African-American and Diaspora Market to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in the United States by returning home to Ghana in the year 2019 to visit and learn about business and investments in Africa.
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