New Book Aims to Give Guidance to Young Black Males

T H E    M A R Y L A N D    G A Z E T T E

In an effort to fill a literary gap and create a unique tool for racial healing, a white Severn resident teamed up with a black friend to write "Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man," which has been endorsed by the likes of entertainer Bill Cosby and former basketball great Julius Erving.

"You will not exit this book the same way you came in," said Mr. Erving in the book’s foreword.

The book highlights the accomplishments of blacks throughout history, provides success stories and offers a healing process for individuals, said co-author Joel Freeman, who, for 19 years, has been team chaplain for the NBA Washington Wizards basketball team.

The basic thesis of the book, and what the title represents, Mr. Freeman said, is the message to blacks that "You had it, you lost it, and now it’s time to get it back." He said the "it" refers to character and courage.

Mr. Freeman and business acquaintance, Don Griffin, decided they wanted to write a book that would address the history and greatness of the black man, but also provide a "road map for wholeness," Mr. Freeman said.

Mr. Griffin, a human resources executive for Tuscan Dairy Farms in New Jersey, wrote the first half of "Return to Glory". It deals with ancient civilizations, the history of black people and the pain of the black experience in America.

Mr. Freeman focused on providing the reader with hope, cross-cultural understanding and building the self-esteem for the target audience – young black males.

"I see it as something everybody knows is a challenge in this country – the issue of racism, racial healing and dialogue," Mr. Freeman said.

"Every book we read was written at a 12th grade or college level and was filled with a lot of anger," he added. "What we wanted was to have a book at a 5th, 6th, or 7th grade level where the information was more reader-friendly."

Since the book’s release in early May 1997, Mr. Freeman said he has found that everyone – men, women, black people and white people of all ages are reading and loving the message of "Return to Glory."

The first part of Mr. Freeman’s section tells the reader to turn the music off. "I dare you to look within and dare to be comfortable and face the pain and get in touch with who you are," he said.

He also deals with culture shock, black rage and acceptance.

White readers are the secondary target audience of the book. There is a special message to white readers at the end of the book that Mr. Freeman suggests they read first.

"It gives white readers a flashlight to understand why we dealt with things the way we did," he said.

"There is something called white privilege," he said. "We don’t have to think about racism. We don’t have to worry about preparing our kids for the first time they hear the ‘N’ word."

Mr. Freeman encourages white readers to pass the book along to a black friend as a means of stimulating conversation "about something other than sports, their jobs, or the weather."

He said the response has been amazing. "People call and tell me that their whole perspective on life has changed."

Mr. Freeman is now putting together a film version of the book.

Mr. Freeman hopes the film version will be out soon, but he said: "I’m not focused on when it’s coming out, but on doing it right. Like the book, it’s a razor’s edge."

In the meantime, Mr. Freeman said he has several more book ideas floating around in his head that he’s waiting for time to work on.

His work with the Wizards and his own consulting firm also keeps Mr. Freeman busy.

He has written a trilogy of inspirational books titled, "GOD IS NOT FAIR", KINGDOM ZOOLOGY, and LIVING WITH YOUR CONSCIENCE WITHOUT GOING CRAZY.

--Stacey Danzuso, The Maryland Gazette, August 25, 1997

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