Men of Courage Leadership Forum attendees pose for a group shot after wrapping up a day of inspirational presentations from presenters Hajj Flemings, Walter Ward and Shaka Senghor.
By Dana Harvey
Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, announced two finalists in the Men of Courage Cincinnati Barbershop Challenge. Barbershop finalists Razor 1 Kutz and Precision Blendz, both of Cincinnati, are competing over the next three months to win a $10,000 grant based on their implementation of initiatives and activities that educate and reinforce positive narratives around African American men.
“We extend congratulations to the two barbershop finalists,” said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “We are excited for this new and innovative chapter in the Men of Courage program. These barbers are advocates and ambassadors in their community and we look forward to working with them.”
Razor 1 Kutz, owned by Donald Hudson, is one of the two finalists selected. “It feels great to be selected as one of the finalists in the Men of Courage Cincinnati Barbershop Challenge,” says Hudson. “It’s a blessing that all my hard work is being recognized and now we have a chance to show it.” Hudson’s plan is to create a tutorial space for neighborhood kids using an underutilized area in the lower level of the building.
The second finalist, Precision Blendz, is owned by Tommy Mays and Michael Thomas Jr., who feel motivated and encouraged to be more creative in doing community outreach events and welcome a little friendly competition. “I’ve been talking to all my clients, and they brought forth a whole lot of input on these ideas,” says co-owner Mays. “We have the community behind us. We are looking forward to continue being Men of Courage.” The shop is over 10 years old and is looking to refresh the premises and use the funds to upgrade its customer experience.
Barbershop owners from the metro Cincinnati area were invited to apply by providing proposals that mirror the Men of Courage mission for a chance to win financial support to implement those ideas. The finalists submitted ideas to host a minimum of six events over three months and will be judged by a panel of Ford Fund and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center representatives on innovation and community impact.
The Men of Courage Barbershop Challenge is an extension of Ford’s Men of Courage program – an initiative aimed at furthering the narrative of positive imagery and messaging around African American men. The challenge centers on a keystone in communities, the African American barbershop, and encourages shop owners to use their existing foundation for community conversation as a launch pad to turn those ideas into community outreach. The Men of Courage program serves as a complimentary grassroots activation to the “Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth” exhibition at NURFC through December 1. Created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Men of Change is made possible through the support of Ford Motor Company Fund and highlights revolutionary men — including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, W.E.B. Du Bois and Kendrick Lamar — whose journeys have altered the history and culture of the country. Cincinnati’s Freedom Center is the first stop of the national three-year tour.
For more information on programs that support the African American community, go to http://fgb.life .