“The Royal Men Foundation is an organization that caters to the needs of men, promoting themes such as brotherhood, fatherhood, and community,” says key member Chris Gadsden. “We deal with issues on how to be a better role model, a better example – how to be a presence in the community. We want to show that men are taking an active role inside of their community, that men are making a difference.
“In this day and age, crime and other issues can make it seem like ladies are taking a lot of the responsibilities for raising children and running the community but we also wanted to show that there are committed men (educators, fathers) to make a difference and serve.”
Currently welcoming new members, the Royal Men Foundation has been “getting more strategic. We believe men have to be at the forefront of consciousness raising,” says Gadsden. “For example, we have been talking about the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander” which discusses mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and challenges colorblindness.
“We are also working on fatherhood initiatives. We’re teaming up with Brother Campos (who deals with incarcerated men) to do a fatherhood initiative that will allow fathers to get acclimated with their children.”
When Duquann Sweeney founded the group in 2012, he felt there was no real outlet for men. He felt that creating a group of male advocates would lead to a ripple effect in the community. And, according to Gadsden, it’s working.
“It’s catching on. Folks are coming to the (weekly) meetings. At the first event we organized, we had about 200 people in Audubon Park. That was very encouraging. The key question for us is how do we keep the momentum? How do we provide the platform that will engage the community? That’s the purpose of tonight’s meeting.
“We have a membership of about 20 men, but in order to do the work that we have do in Jersey City, it’s going to take more people. We want to be more. We need more brains, more ideas, more bodies, more everything.
“We have three more lecture series that need support, but after we move out of the summer, we need to plan our meetings on Wednesday. We need different topics that we can engage men in. We need input on that. How can we be more effective?
“We need a sustainable program to help mentor and develop leadership in our young people throughout the city. We want to continue our social action series. We need the music, we need the art, we need to help spread the message.”
And finally, Gadsden talks about the forthcoming barbershop initiative. “We believe the barbers have the heartbeat of the community. We’re going to utilize them, to build a collective of barbers. People talk to them. They can let us know what young people need, how to address the violence.
“This meeting tonight is important to get ideas and insight,” finishes Gadsen.
The meeting will be held at the old YMCA on 654 Bergen Avenue from 6-8 pm.
For more information, contact rmfoundationinc(at)gmail.com via email or call 201.284.1172.
Photos provided by Chris Gadsden
Royal Men Foundation Lecture Series: The New Jim Crow