Father’s Day and an important date in African-American history helped shape Kendrick Glover’s message Sunday.
Today’s troubled youth in the community need help, direction and understanding, said Glover, co-founder and president of Glover Empower Mentoring (GEM), a program geared toward young men ages 13-21.
“It’s important for us to continue to lead with compassion and hope because we know some of our youth do not have people in their lives to actually be there, to stand in their corner and walk alongside them as they go through some of their trials and tribulations,” Glover told a sun-splashed crowd at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Morrill Meadows Park.
“We need to stand by them, believe in them.”
Glover, of Kent, was the keynote speaker at the community-wide celebration that commemorates African-American freedom. Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) presented the fifth annual event – a full day of guest speakers, music, prayer, dance, food and vendors.
Seattle jazz guitarist Michael Powers headlined a variety of guest entertainers.
Juneteenth marks an important day in African-American history. It has been 151 years since the word of the signing, on Sept. 22, 1862, of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Each year on or about June 19, celebrations take place throughout the United States to remember and pay homage to the historic day. It is the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the country.
The day also belonged to dads and community leaders, especially those who work in local African-American communities.
“You guys are the real MVPs,” Glover said. “You guys matter, you play an instrumental role in the lives of someone.”
But many youth grow up without influential role models. Glover should know. Raised in a single-parent household in Natchez, Miss., Glover ran afoul of the law. The teen served four years of a 10-year prison sentence, the turning point in his life.
Glover rebounded, put his life in order. He earned his GED while in prison and later returned to college, earned his degree and began working as a youth mentor in his community.
It was Glover’s partnership with KBAC and others that helped launch the GEM program. Glover’s ongoing work is difficult, especially when it comes to helping youth overcome the throes of violence, unemployment and educational setbacks.
But Glover has had his share of success stories, of teens graduating from high school and going off to college.
Much more works needs to be done, he said.
“We’re in the community to break the notion that our young men can’t be successful,” he said. “We need for us to stand alongside them to give them additional support.
“I’m asking for a call of action in our community … that if you’re not involved in some shape or form at building up your community, then shame on you,” he said. “You can volunteer your time and your skills, and share your stories … If we don’t continue to pass down our knowledge and wisdom to our young people, then where are we going to be?”
Guest speaker Eddie Rye Jr., a local activist and historian, urged others to “make a difference in the community by participating.” … The Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle made an appearance, and one of its longtime members, Trooper Joseph Overall, delivered a proclamation. The Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle, a nonprofit organization of volunteers, is dedicated to telling the story of the 9th and 10th Cavalry units, which served proudly while making major contributions to the settlement of the American West. … De’Vaughnn Williams, Miss Black Washington USA, in her speech, encouraged others to engage in peace, prayer, love and education, and “stay in a place of gratitude.” Williams competes in the national Miss Black USA Pageant later this year. To learn more and to support her cause, visit online. … KBAC support and membership continue to grow, according to Gwen Allen-Carston, KBAC executive director. To inquire, visit kentblackactioncommission.com.
Kendrick Glover, co-founder and president of Glover Empower Mentoring (GEM), speaks at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Morrill Meadows Park on Sunday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter