Where were you born and raised?
Kansas City, MO.
What is your occupation?
Education and non profit executive leadership
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Watching my mother paint beautiful oil on canvas murals and stills.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
I am honored to carry the name of a significant figure and moment of Black History. So, for me, Black History is very personal. I grew up in a household where we celebrated Black History constantly. I was made keenly aware of the achievements and contributions of Black pioneers from an early age. Black History Month is an opportunity for the world to take a moment, even briefly, to also recognize and celebrate the significant achievements of Black History from past to present.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
I believe the most important issues facing the Black community revolve around access and equity. It is important that Black people are given economic, educational, and health care access in order to negate some of the historical and systemic systems that have impacted the culture for generations. Ensuring equitable access is a way to begin breaking down some of the barriers that exist.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I have been self-aware of my identity as a Black American from as early as I can remember. It has given me a sense of pride at times, but has also forced me to confront issues of adversity as well. Recognizing and dealing with some of the stereotypes that exist for Black men can be challenging at times. My cultural identity has also created a sense of responsibility to influence the next generation positively, so they may achieve greater heights of success and influence in the world.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My inspiration for change is linked directly to my own experience and life story. I faced many challenges as a Black youth growing up in Kansas City. Unfortunately, I have first hand knowledge of multiple ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that could have resulted in a very negative pathway in my future. My push for change comes with a sense of responsibility to help the next generation navigate their ACEs so they are able to unlock and access their best futures.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I support and contribute to the local Black community in many ways. One way is through service. I serve on many Boards aimed at making a difference in the community. I attend and serve in one of the largest and most active traditionally black churches in the city. Professionally, I work daily to engage the community and meet the needs of youth through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City. I have also contributed to the local Black economy through entrepreneurial efforts and support.