Black Men Coalition of Dane County recently announced an exciting opportunity to spend a night with entertainment, food, and drinks at the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison at the non-profit organization’s first annual REVITALIZE Black Tie Fundraiser on Dec. 15.
Black Men Coalition (BMC) founder and CEO Corey Marionneaux discussed big plans to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need through economic mobility and support. The fundraising from the event will go towards a new $25 million housing and economic development project BMC is taking on to find sustainable employment, teach financial literacy, and provide upward mobility in housing and career opportunities for people struggling to get a stable foothold for any number of reasons.
This housing project will take place in Sun Prairie and is an extension of the work Marionneaux says defines the mission of BMC, along with their popular free summer youth baseball league.
“We are teaching financial literacy inside of the Dane County Jail,” Marionneaux told Madison365. “We are working with Dane County Jail as their employment resource for people getting released to the community, as well. We really want people to see what we’re doing. It’s been two and a half years and we’re moving and getting stuff done. We’re just looking to get more support as well to be able to create the things we want to create. The first housing project is for single individuals, and our next project will be for families.”
Marionneaux was clear that whether it be recently incarcerated people, homeless people, or even someone struggling with debt or dislocation, finding stable housing and creating a goal to keep that momentum are the crucial start to get back on track in life. With the bottom line being that lack of purpose can often lead to antisocial behaviors, Marionneaux knows that solutions are in intervening and giving someone something to value.
“What we want to do is create value in people,” said Marionneaux. “We want to meet the individuals where they are, create the value, and then give them something to work hard towards, besides just working a job every day with nothing to look forward to. We want to create that. That’s something powerful that people don’t understand, because a lot of people are just going through life with nothing to look forward to. They’re trying to do the right thing — and not doing criminal activity — in our community busting their butt every day … and what do they have to look forward to?”
These sentiments intersect perfectly with the goals of the REVITALIZE event with celebrity guests featuring Jeremy Meeks, Jamal Woolard, Brian J. White, and James Hyde, who will also take part in a stage production of “The Kernel of Truth,” a story by Marionneaux that speaks on understanding the complexity of what leads to crime and what reform looks like.
The event will also have performances by trumpeter David Walker and violinist Windy Indie along with live DJs.
“To be able to hear the actors speak about the play as well and their experience, I think it’s gonna be cool and to hear Jeremy Meeks speak about his experience, as well,” Marionneaux said, referring to the keynote speaker Meeks who became popular after a mugshot of his went viral before getting out of jail and turning his life around.
“People really take off when value is installed and they have the right opportunity and the right support system. They say it takes a village to raise a kid. It also takes a village to raise a broken individual.”
Much like the story of Meeks who went from a path likely to end permanently behind bars to penning an autobiography on what led him there before his change of course through viral sensation, Marionneaux hopes that the work they continue to do along with the REVITALIZE event will start to paint a different picture and take back control of the narrative around Black men.
“As the CEO of Black Men Coalition, one of our goals is to change the image and what’s been put on Black men in the community,” said Marionneaux. “Because we have one of the highest incarceration rates in our community for Black men, it’s for us to show that that’s not who we really are. We want to show that we’re classy men who work hard, and who want to help others, as well.”
To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, visit the event website here.