Where were you born and raised?
Kansas City, Missouri.
What is your occupation?
Media production assistant at the University of Kansas Health System and owner of A. Specs Media, LLC.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memories are definitely times spent at my grandparents houses (mom's side and dad's side). Both my parents have seven siblings, so holidays and gatherings were always filled with lots of people, love, fun, discussions, and made up games with my cousins.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means a lot to me. It's an opportunity to highlight a large part of American history and world history. I remember growing up and going to a Montessori school where Black history felt like another important part of the basic curriculum. It represents legacy, appreciation, and the promise of the future to me.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
I believe that there are so many issues facing our community and things that we have to fight on every front unwaveringly. One of the main issues that I've seen persist throughout my life is the idea of things that are Black are somehow less than or not up to par. Our community has not historically been afforded the same opportunities to build up the confidence and the agency to maximize who we truly are. That's seen in education, finances, and politics, all of which impacts us greatly.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I think I've always had some sense of what it meant to be Black in America. One of the first times I really got a reality check of my status as a Black man in America I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was riding in the back seat of my aunt's car after leaving a grocery store. My aunt and my mom were in the front seat. A cop pulled my aunt over and started to ask lengthy questions about why she was in the neighborhood. He turned his attention to me and said, "Who is that in the back seat?" My mom said, "Uh, that's my son," with frustration. I just remember him glaring at me in the window and me being frozen and nervous. He asked a number of other unnecessary questions and then finally let us go letting my aunt know one of her taillights were out.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My biggest inspirations are the next generation. I see the fire in their eyes and hear the passion in their voices. When I see people my age and younger expressing their dreams, making major strides, giving back to their communities, and setting the bar higher, it inspires me. It gives me a huge sense of hope that the legacies and sacrifices of our ancestors will not die or be in vain.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I've always been a part of helping my community through the work I do at my church, it's something I was instilled with as a child. In 2020, I gave minority business owners the opportunity to be featured in my "Hues" Calendar which is a calendar published and shot by me. The emphasis is highlighting minority-owned businesses in the Kansas City area. Business owner received a free spread in the calendar and it's being sold by my business. We will be offering a $500 scholarship for high school seniors going to college for the either the 2021 fall or 2022 spring semester soon. This year, I'm doing monthly Instagram live sessions called "Specs Chats" with other minority business owners highlighting the work they're doing and the services they offer. I post a Black History fact to our Instagram story every day.