The #BlackJoy inaugural presentation, The Power of Resilience and Joy, held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, featured several performances. Author and actor, Remi Adeleke shared his inspiring story of redemption penned in his compelling autobiography Transformed: A Navy Seal’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds. Motivational speaker Akeem Lloyd, a youth advocate, educator, mentor and poet, discussed how he is using his life and gifts to enhance opportunities for young people. Slam Poet, Jalem Towler captivated the audience with a powerful spoken word performance sharing his view of blackness and joy. Lastly, Origination, a local dance troop lit up the event floor with two breathtaking performances, Block Party and Umoja wa Africa.
Below are several quotes and observations from attendees. They provide a good example of the hope and the goals of the project. I’d like to extend gratitude to all attendees for singing along and praying with me to start the program off. Your voices were beautiful. Shout out my partners and presenters for your support, courage, resilience, determination and love. #BlackJoy changes hearts and lives on February 17, 2020. – Thaddeus Miles
The event was sponsored by HoodFit, My Brother’s Keeper – Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and MassHousing. BlackJoy is the effort of community leader and photographer Thaddeus Miles to highlight and inspire joy in the lives of Black people
REFLECTIONS of ATTENDEES
BAM (Becoming A Man) Students
“When I went to the Black Joy event it was eye opening. I heard different speakers speak on similar things, things that are troubling or difficult, things that I have gone through too. Listening to the dynamic presenters encouraged me not to always be negative and to stay positive and to support my BAM Brothers. Before attending the event, because I am Hispanic and unfamiliar with Black History, I was not sure how much I would relate to a Back Joy event; but in reality being at that event taught me that we are more similar than different. I felt love and joy there, and I was treated as a member of a community that felt like one big family – and that is what I enjoyed the most about that day.” – SG, Sophomore BAM Scholar at East Boston High
“My time at the Black Joy event was very good and inspiring. I really got inspired listening to what Remi and Akeem were saying. What they were saying were things we don’t hear on a daily basis. Things like “I love you” or things like “I’m proud of you”. We don’t get that every day in our society and I’m still not very sure why. Something that Akeem really touched on that touched me is that it’s not normal. It’s not normal that when you’re in your household you don’t receive the word “I love you”. It’s not normal that you don’t receive hugs. It’s not normal at all and that’s something that should change in every community. That hit me hard because hearing those words make me feel better and I don’t always hear those words. Remi’s story was just amazing man…the fact that he had so many downfalls and he’s at such a good place now is just amazing. After falling from the riches and becoming a drug dealer…well a scammer, he’s an actor and was a navy seal. No one can make an excuse for not persevering after hearing his story. His story inspired me in school because there are times in school when I’m not my best, but he made me feel like even if I make mistakes that I can still be #1 or be where I want to be. That’ll forever be on my mind. I even told all my family members about it. – QS
I got lost on my way to MFA and I was really thinking about going home, but I am glad I was able to show commitment and self-determinations and make it to the event because I had a good time listening and learning from Remi, the dances and celebrating the event with my BAM brothers. I enjoyed hearing about Remi’s story and how he never gave up. I want to work hard and try harder in classes this semester because I know I can do better. – KJ
Wise and Lovely Elders
I had an amazing time! Celebrating black history with the seniors of UHM Properties was wonderful. The dancers and speakers were great to see. I can’t wait to do something like this again. I thank you all so much for inviting me to this event!”- Minnie Brite-Thomas, New Port Antonio Housing Development
“The dancers were really good. I truly enjoyed it. It was really positive. Maybe it will help young people be more positive and do a little something good for the world, too.”- Shirley Clark, Blue Mountain Housing Development
“I thought it was very nice and interesting – all I can think of is those two words when I remember . I would definitely like to see this again.” – Hattie Shaw, Washington Heights Housing Development
North Shore Community College’s M.A.L.E.S. (Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success) Group
The students of North Shore Community College’s M.A.L.E.S. (Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success) program, along with their peers and a couple of family members, were truly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the BlackJoy inaugural event at the MFA. A few students had never been to Boston, and most had not been to the MFA.
During the bus ride when asked what they were looking forward to the most, the majority of students sat in silence with their headphones closely cupped to their ears. Some were not sure what to expect, others too shy to share, and a couple bold enough to simply say “lunch.”
Seeing the looks on their faces as they shuffled through the double doors in awe, in and of itself, filled my heart with joy. As I observed them throughout the event, I was pleased as they shared commentary with one another ranging from curiosity and intrigue, to being startled and emotional. When the young dancers were on stage, I saw the students engaging with movement in their seats and smiles on their faces.
– Michele Cubelli Harris, Office of the Vice President, Student Affairs, NSCC
“This whole day was a wake-up call for me. I need to step up my game.”
“I thought the dancers were entertaining and really cool to watch. The spoken word and the poetry were fire.”
“I related with the speakers experience so much.”
“I want to be an event planner like the man at the podium with the big hat. What do I have to study to do that?”
“I never knew we had a museum like this in Boston.”
“I loved the prayer and the song. I really needed this.”
“It was such an inspiring day – I loved everything about it. So glad I came.”
“The dancers were dope. I can get with that for sure.”
“I learned that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, we can be and do anything we set our mind to.”
“Having been raised in church, it gave me that kind of vibe. I messed with it heavy.”
“I wish we could do stuff like this more.”
“We gotta keep pushing. That’s it. Keep pushing.”
“Everything, all of it was cool.”
“The event was unforgettable, nothing I expected. It was powerful, moving and motivating. I left there feeling brave and super encouraged to complete my goals.”
11 thoughts on “The Launch”
It was a great event. Thank you for organizing it.
Congratulations on the event and the official launch of this blog!
This event should be held annually, it was that amazing & I look forward to future events of such great caliber! La’Kayla
You are one awesome brother! You do such much to advance the lives of many, particularly our black and brown boys! I am so glad that Conan Harris brought us together!
Absolutely awe inspiring.. Young men (& rising young men) of Color know that their potential and self-worth towards success & excellence will always triumph over the challenges of adversity.
Heartwarming to witness the encouragement and rise of Black (& Brown) Men after April 4, 1968.
This event illustrates that the sum is greater then the whole of its parts. This event was phenomenal, I have told everybody about it. I bought the book of the participant. I told others to buy the book and be inspired. I can’t wait to hear about the next event.
A beautiful display of Black Joy in every way. Congratulations Thaddeus!