Achieving change through an ever-improving process of equity for all.
Growing up as an African American kid, I did not have any mentors. My early childhood was spent moving from military base to military base, never quite feeling like I had a real foundation. My single mother did as much as she could to help raise me, but my life truly changed when I entered the workforce at 18 with my first job at Burger King. I began to see the world through a different lens. My bosses starting to see something in me that I didn’t realize was there, and slowly and steadily, I began to see new opportunities and pathways that I never even imagined possible.
“Imagine what the world would be like if every young person, no matter their circumstances or the environment around them, had someone believing in them too.”
In the late 1960s, I was beginning my own journey during a time of profound change in our country. I was struck by what it meant to be “different,” but I was-- and am-- deeply driven by the fact that profound societal change does not come easy. Whether it’s suffrage for women or the Voting Rights Act, anything achieved by a diverse group of individuals has been a movement hard fought. But these movements matter because they lead to transformational change.
Much like when I was growing up, it is clear that today—this moment— is an opportunity for change. This is a critical moment in our society to acknowledge diversity as a fact, make inclusion our guiding mindset, and achieve change through an ever-improving process of equity for all.
I’m proud to now represent the growing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion at this landmark organization, which is truly a microcosm of our society. With Clubs in nearly every community around the country, our Club kids, staff, local boards and volunteers represent the diversity of our nation. Together as advocates for a more inclusive and equitable future, we must make time to celebrate our differences and yet be tirelessly accountable and steadfast in our pursuit to break down barriers for young people.
We must continue to inspire success in young people by sharing stories of individuals they can identify with—people that look like them-- so they can bear witness to the opportunities that can shape their futures. When young people see a shared narrative, through a mentor, history maker, board member, or community leader, they can begin to see success in themselves.
Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s commitment to inclusion here.