Village Blogger Kerline Jules Honors South Florida’s Emerging African-American Male Business & Community Leaders While Bringing Awareness to Local Boys and Men of Color Initiatives
Roughly two years ago, after recent gun violence incident in South Florida, a local community group hosted a much needed “Stop the Gun Violence” town hall. Victims of gun violence, local elected officials, community organizers, educators, concerned citizens and local celebrities attended the standing room only town hall. As a young leader passionate about the elevation of my community, town halls for me provide a platform bringing visibility to topics and an outlet for the community to express their thoughts and concerns.
With the recent gun violence killing our black males fresh on everyone’s mind and a paralyzed victim of a recent shooting sitting in the audience, the emotions were high as frustrated citizens shared their concerns of the value society places on our black males. Audience members elaborated on how many of our black males that engage in these violent acts do not feel they are valued nor do they feel they belong in this society, therefore assume they are not a priority and not positioned for success. The panel was lost for words; I too was moved to silence. It was this particular segment during the discussion highlighting the perception of our black males that marinated in my spirit. Here I am, ignited to move to action and yet frustrated that I am about to leave this town hall with no action items. As a woman, I am not equipped to teach a man how to be a man. However, as a woman, I can honor, celebrate and elevate our brothers. It was then that a seed for a project I would later call, Distinguished Gentlemen: Honoring the Gentlemen Making An Impact was planted.
With the constant narrow images that linger in our society of our black males, it was important to me to do my part in elevating and celebrating the images of our emerging black men in my local community, South Florida. The project Distinguished Gentlemen, a project that is powered by my social impact venture, The K.Jules Project (www.kjulesproject.com), showcases some of South Florida’s finest young black businessmen and community leaders with debonair style. It is my vision that this initiative will grow to be one of the largest social gatherings raising funds and bringing awareness to initiatives for boys and men of color. This year’s impressive honorees included the founder of one of the few African-American owned architecture firms in South Florida, communications director for South Florida’s $200 million endowed community foundation, finance director for a 100-million-dollar South Florida property and a former University of Miami star athlete that turned his passion for athletic development to an award winning business.
On an evening in August, an upscale recognition social was held in the gentlemen’s honor at Miami’s lux décor C-Lounge. The Honorable Judge Elijah Williams, Circuit Judge of Broward County, Florida shared a special address highlighting the impact of his advocacy work on eliminating the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline. Benjamin Evans III, Managing Director of BMe Community, a national movement focused on building caring and prosperous communities inspired by black men, shared additional remarks on BMe’s black male initiatives. The evening affair was hosted by South Florida’s Radio veteran and HOT 105’s Tamara G.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, WHY NOT?” I have come to a place in my life that if there is something missing in my community that I want to see, I am going to gather my skill sets, my connections and resources and create it. If we don’t celebrate and elevate our brothers, and show them they are valued…who will? #CelebrateOurBrothers #DontShoot