Thursday, June 1, 2006

Black men in America often feel as if they are living in the shadow of an image, in a space that exists between fear and fascination. Now numbering 18 million, black men face a moment when decades of steady progress are colliding with disheartening setbacks. Like people in other demographic segments, they are sorting out their futures as the country is changing in dramatic ways.

In a series of articles called "Being a Black Man," The Washington Post will explore the issues that have shaped the identities of black men in this country and chronicle the experiences of black men in the Washington region. The series will begin tomorrow with an overview of what it means to be a black man today in America, followed on Sunday by publication of an ambitious poll surveying the attitudes and experiences of black men on subjects including marriage and crime.

Over the next several months, The Post will publish periodic narratives about the lives of local black men -- what it feels like to raise a son, to be an iconoclast, to be unjustly imprisoned, to be successful in an environment tainted by failure.

The newspaper series will be accompanied by an array of original audio and visual features on These will include audio-video oral histories of black men in the Washington area, short documentary surveys of black men's views on various subjects, and a forum for readers to share their comments and experiences.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company