Rapper Big Sean and former Mayor Dave Bing joined forces with Ford Motor Co.
They are leading a new Men of Courage campaign to change the perceptions of black men in America, one story at a time.
Big Sean, also known as Sean Anderson, grew up in Detroit on Northlawn and was back in the city Thursday to inspire young black men in a pilot project of true storytelling.
"Seeing my mom break down in tears because of the racism she had to go through," Big Sean said.
In the day-long forum held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History Thursday, 50 men aged 20 to 70, listened to stories of struggle.
"From the age of five until now, I've been blind in my left eye," Bing said.
"To hear what other guys have gone through and what they've accomplished," said Shaka Seghor, an author and writer. "It is very, very inspiring."
Senghor, a writer and author, is finishing up his last semester teaching at the University of Michigan, says he wrote his first book in prison.
"Why are you waiting on somebody else to build your dream," Seghor said. "It's your responsibility."
The day focused on identifying personal challenges and the turning points in their lives when they decided to become successful.
"It got personal in there and that's what we wanted," said Shawn Wilson of the Ford Motor Co. Fund. "I think there is a story of black men that hasn't been told on a consistent basis."
Many standing in awe, wiped away tears and felt inspired.
"We don't have to live in a culture of crime, we do not have to continue to live in a culture of hopelessness," Bing said. "There are black men who care about young black boys."
“I think anytime a group of people come together and open up, it is very powerful,” said Myra Anderson, Big Sean’s mother. “I’m proud of the man he is.”
Wilson says he expects the Men of Courage storytelling project to travel to other states and cities.