Founded in 1973, the Harvard Black Men’s Forum (BMF) is a cultural affinity group and space for Black men on Harvard’s campus. Since then, BMF has grown from a small-scale initiative of Harvard students to one of the most recognized and celebrated organizations on Harvard’s campus. BMF’s mission is to foster a supportive atmosphere of brotherhood amongst Black men identifying community on campus. The three BMF values include Brotherhood, Manhood, and Fidelity. The value of Brotherhood manifests through the programming that forms unbreakable bonds amongst members. The value of Manhood manifests in helping all members transition from their respective high schools to Harvard’s predominantly white institution, and helping them become acclimated to the new environment. The value of fidelity manifests through discussions that stir discomfort, create discourse, and seek for the truth.
BMF is concerned with political, social, and cultural issues regarding Black men on Harvard University’s campus and beyond, and we promote greater awareness and understanding of these issues through all appropriate means, including meetings, seminars, publications, and active engagement with the community. Our programming is composed of various aspects, including bi-weekly general meetings about issues pertaining to Black men and the Black community at large, social events to build camaraderie, public service initiatives (such as the David Walker Scholars Program) to create an impact, etc. Some of our meetings this year have included guests like former NBA star Dwyane Wade and renowned actress Nia Long.
I started my journey with BMF by joining the Executive Board as the Political Action Chair at the end of my first-year. I was struck by the strong camaraderie amongst members during my first-year and the impact BMF had through its discussions and public service initiatives. Thus, I joined the executive board as Political Action Chair because I wanted to help create a greater sense of brotherhood amongst members on campus and be a part of the creation process for BMF’s political and civic engagement initiatives. During my tenure, I led our voter registration for members, created the Fellows to Table initiative (a dinner between an IOP Fellow and BMF members), facilitated discussions with prominent policymakers and activists (such as Trymaine Lee), etc. BMF was able to significantly increase its members’ political and civic engagement through these various efforts. At the end of my term as Political Action Chair, I decided that I wanted to continue my leadership with BMF as the Vice President. During this virtual school year, I organized our annual Brotherhood Banquet, a series of discussions on artistry and Black womanhood for women’s history month with Nia Long and Meagan Good, and carried out all other administrative efforts.
Over the past year, BMF has adapted its programming with the constraints of virtual learning. We’ve continued to have bi-weekly discussions and other speaker series, which has been quite conducive to Zoom for convenience and organizing. However, the social events haven’t been as strong virtually. But we’ve adapted activities that are Zoom friendly and still help build bonds amongst members, such as Family Feud, “Guess that song”, etc. Overall, the transition to a virtual setting was successful for BMF.