Lake Chabot in Castro Valley was the sight of this year's Diablo Black Men's Group Family Cookout. The club hosted 20 children age 10 and younger from the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland, who spent the day playing games, hiking and touring the lake by boat.
The group has been holding the event for eight years, but this was the first time the organization had reached out and invited an outside group to be part of its family picnic.
"It gives the kids an opportunity to see black men are interested in them. It gives them a different perspective because many of the children don't have fathers," said John Lane, co-chair of the social committee of Diablo Black Men's Group.
The group also helps the members talk out the issues that affect them as black men, which is how the group started. In the mid-1990s, a group of professional black men would meet with Brodrick Hill, a minister and Chevron executive, for monthly breakfasts at his home.
At the breakfasts, the men discussed the struggles of being a small minority group in a predominantly white community and work force. The number of men attending these meetings gradually increased.
"(Hill) cared very much how we as black men supported each other and the community," said Danville resident Bill Williams.
In 1999 Williams, Dozier Jones and Ronald Sandifor turned the once monthly breakfast club into the Diablo Black Men's Group.
"It creates a social network of African-American men that I can interact with," said Robert Bogle, chairman of the men's group.
Five committees make up the organization: health and wellness, membership, social, business networking and educational.
"We combine our collective influence and give back to the Bay Area as a whole," said Lane. "In my personal view we help blur the lines of race and color."
Bogle believes it is important to question what can be done to improve our communities.
"We want our communities to feel better today than yesterday," he said.
Members work together to uphold and practice the group's mission statement: "To promote fellowship among black men, to help African-Americans and other minorities in Diablo Valley actualize full citizenship, to include liberty, good health, social equality and economic vitality."
The group's mission was noticed by Beverly Wilmore, president of Inner Media Vision Incorporated. From working in media and concluding there was not enough focus on men and their needs, Wilmore was inspired to found and produce the annual Remarkable Men Leadership Conference. Noting that men are often portrayed in the media in a negative way, Wilmore said, "We want to focus on the positive things men are doing out there. There are men out there making a significant change in their community."
The second annual Remarkable Men Leadership Conference, which will be held Aug. 2 in Concord, is to be a time of restoring and redefining men, according to Wilmore. There will be speakers, presentations, and question and answer sessions focusing on issues that affect African-American males.
Bogle will present the Remarkable Man Award to a current Diablo Black Men's Group member. The member must be nominated by the executive board and show poise in the roles of leadership, professional and family.
Only men 18 and older can participate in the event. "This is so they can give back to the youth," Wilmore said.
Last year 65 men attended from 19 cities in California and four states. Wilmore is hoping for 100 this year.
"The mission of Diablo Black Men's Group parallels with the mission of the conference," she said. "It's a good match."
Remarkable Men Leadership Conference
When: Aug. 2, 7a.m.-5p.m.
Where: The Concord Hilton Hotel 1970 Diamond Blvd., Concord
For more information: Visit www.dbmg.org to find out more about the organization. To register call (707) 246-9039 or go to www.rmlc.biz.