Residents in lower-income Boston areas like Roxbury are expected to die much earlier than people who live in higher-income places like Back Bay. Why? Because these areas lack the resources to promote a healthy lifestyle. Consequently, their bodies aren’t as fit as people in areas with more access to resources ultimately leading to a shorter lifespan. Black Men Run is actively changing this. Their goal is to help people in low-income neighborhoods get outside and be more physically active. They are doing this by getting together and organizing running events. I was lucky enough to meet the founder Jeff Davis and he was able to tell me a lot more information about the organization.
Davis told me he started BMR in a parking lot by himself before he actually had active people showing up and running. Social media helped him spread his message throughout the community. This organization isn’t just about running, it’s about building a connection with people in your community and bettering ourselves together. When Davis was young he didn’t see groups of people running together for a purpose. They had other things going on such as jobs so they were too focused on that. “We didn’t get it but we can be that for someone else.” He knows what it’s like not having organizations like this in the community so one of their goals is to try to be that role model for someone else regardless of age. Getting up and running in the morning is difficult especially if you don’t have an environment that supports you. I’m pretty young and I’m still not trying to get up and run in the morning time so I can only imagine the discouragement for people that are older.
This organization is bigger than running it is about setting the community up for success and more life. “It’s not about the run, it’s about the health,” explained Davis. There’s a statistic that says 47% of black adults suffer from cardiac disease. So this statistic alone is what motivates him and all the people participating in Black Men Run. You don’t even have to be there every day for it to make a difference. Showing up once a week will still benefit you greatly. You don’t even have to worry about being alone or standing out because being one community is enforced. There will always be someone by your side running with you and supporting you during your runs.
Unfortunately, challenges come with any and everything. Davis let me know that persistence is a huge problem that can occur with a lot of runners. “You’re gonna get tired, you’re gonna be sore and your shoes are gonna wear down.” Helping keep people motivated to want to get up in the morning to run can be very difficult. I’m only 18 and once I’m sore I’m done with all physical activities for the week. So I can imagine how hard it is for middle-aged people. But at the end of the day, it will all be worth it. Good cardio builds longevity. That’s truly what the program is about. Davis seeing the statistic as a black man himself stepped up and started to make a change even if he had to start alone.
Meeting Davis was an amazing experience. Seeing someone trying to help better the black community in Boston while also balancing their own family life is very inspiring to a lot of people. I was able to laugh and be engaged in every conversation Davis and I had. I appreciate the time he was able to give me. He explained everything so well and was able to give me great insight into what the organization is like. Boston as a city is a better place because of the work Davis and Black Men Run do.