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Everyday Heroes: John Taylor III

Black Male Initiative Georgia Fund

In his own words, John Taylor III first learned the importance of community from endearing metaphors taught to him by his grandmother.

“As she would always say, we are all we got, but we’re all we need,” Taylor III said at the office of Black Male Initiative Georgia Fund. It’s an Atlanta-based nonprofit that he helped co-found to empower Black men financially and civically through direct action, grassroots organizing and advocacy as a means of creating a healthy and equitable society.

Officially created in 2019, the concept for BMI Georgia Fund came to life a year prior as a signature program with National Coalition of Black and Civic Participation to offer young Black men a chance to rewrite narratives around the Black community. From there, the group started to flesh the program out creating initiatives like Mens And Boys Day at the Capital, Black Youth Vote!, and a certified pre-trial diversion program through Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“It was a concept that Melanie Campbell, myself, Jamida Orange, Diallo Brooks had and, in 2018, we were watching the election cycle here in Georgia, and some of the brothers on the ground here were uncomfortable with the stereotypical narratives around Black men, and we decided that we wanted to capture our own narrative,” Taylor III said.

Now offering programs in five areas of programmatic work- civic engagement, criminal justice, education, Black mental health and wellness and economic empowerment- Taylor III says that the ultimate goal for BMI is to reach the Black community where they are, particularly the ones who have been written off as “undesirable” by societal standards.

“When we cut turf, we seek out the turf everybody else wants to pass,” Taylor III said. “Our goal is to show that the individuals that live in our communities with the most need are individuals that have not only a brilliant analysis of society, but that they have passion, that they’re not castoffs and throwaways, that they do care about what’s happening in their communities, and that really the initiative is all you need.”

According to Taylor III, a large portion of this work involves giving Black men opportunities to care for themselves in ways that promote equity.

“When you see our canvassers on the door, it might be a young person who’s on their first chance, it’s the first job they ever had, or it might be somebody that was on their third strike, and if it wasn’t for us they wouldn’t get another chance,” he said. “But every person who was in the community rocking a BMI or a BMIF shirt is somebody that cares deeply about their community.”

But for Taylor III, the ultimate goal is reminding and educating Black men and women on the fact that they matter.

“If you think about the history of Black folks in America and these 400 and some odd years, that it is a miracle and a feat of sheer excellence that our community is upright and not just screaming and ripping its hair out every day,” he said. “So we recognize that some of us may seek oblivion in order to sustain ourselves, but we also recognize that at the center of each of us is a beautiful human that is worthy of respect and dignity and love, and as many chances as we can muster, so that we can be our full selves and reach our full potential.”

HOW TO HELP

For more information on BMI Georgia, visit https://www.bmigeorgia.org/.

Follow them on Instagram @bmigeorgia.


WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER: A SPECIAL PROJECT

This place we call home is filled with ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats. Their selfless acts make this region so special – and they bring out the best in all of us. With the holidays upon us, we wanted to share their inspiring stories, celebrate their accomplishments, and offer ways that you can help.

Just as the 55 people we’re profiling can’t do it alone, nor can we. That’s why we worked closely with our partners to bring you this collection of uplifting stories.

We hope they leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle the busy new year that lies ahead. We hope they make you feel more connected to your community or to your neighbors.

And maybe, just maybe, they will motivate you to come up with your own small way to make a big difference in the lives of others.

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