Memorial Day Weekend 2018 in Chicago saw a devastating 39 people shot, with seven ending in unfortunate fatalities. In an effort to counteract this violence, IMAN brought 70+ young men from six different Chicago organizations to Atlanta for a transformative and healing Green ReEntry Summit. The summit was largely made possible through the sponsorship of Chicago CRED, one of our closest community partners. These men were given the opportunity to travel that weekend and avoid the threats of violence to which they may have otherwise been exposed.
Each of these six groups were brought to IMAN Atlanta’s newest development site, a 10-unit apartment building, currently in its final phases of renovation. The guests from Chicago received a full tour of the facility, and an overview of the project’s vision and its projected community impact. They were also immersed into the typical daily routine for IMAN Atlanta’s Green ReEntry cohort. They participated in Tai Chi, stretches, drills (what kind of drills?), and shared personal “Words of Wisdom”–an exercise through which both cities’ cohorts could exchange reflections and realize commonalities between themselves.
The summit’s opening session was filled with particularly powerful moments. Resembling a reunion of long-lost brothers;the cohort members from Chicago and Atlanta bonded over their shared struggles through the process of transformation and empowerment. Part of the same organization–links in the same chain–but separated by 700 miles, the summit participants stood together united for a positive cause. That night, the groups broke bread together at an interfaith ‘BBQ Iftar’ for Atlanta community members. An ‘iftar’ is the meal which concludes the daily fasts for Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan. It was only fitting that such an impactful day concluded with an evening of Southern comfort food and uplifting artistic expression performed by cohort members themselves.
This summit provided a safe and restorative space for 70 men during a notoriously violent weekend. The potential impact of a yearly summit means saving lives, preventing men from becoming “another statistic”, and deepening a brotherhood.