VOICES: Black History Month through the eyes of a young, Black leader

Makenzie Hoeferlin asked Kevin Jones, vice president and chief communications officer of Central Ohio Young Black Democrats, about Black History Month.

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: Kevin Jones hopes to one day serve his community in public office because he thinks he can make a difference. “Kevin will never be dormant. He always has something to do and it’s always to the benefit of his community and others. He’s really hard working and extremely passionate about whatever he does,” said Wright State University Student Body President Adrian Williams said of Jones, a 22 year old Wright State grad. Contributor Makenzie Hoeferlin asked Jones, vice president and chief communications officer of Central Ohio Young Black Democrats, about the importance of Black History Month. This piece will appear on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Feb. 14. Find links to related columns below.

Q: Considering the recent attention on racial issues, does Black History Month hold a different meaning or higher significance to you?

A: It has become more significant, in a sense, because once again we’ve had an opportunity to create history. We created history with President Barack Obama and now with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Q: Why is Black History Month so important to younger generations?

A: Growing up Black we don’t get taught our own history by the teachers. And so, throughout those 13 years of life where we’re going from (kindergarten) to 12th grade, we’re not learning Black history and we’re sure as heck not learning the significance of being Black as a young man or young woman.

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Q: When you were younger, what were some of the things you wish you had been told?

A: Growing up Black you don’t understand and get taught the significance of building wealth. We understand potentially saving, but we don’t understand the groundwork behind it like building wealth, the importance of credit and learning how to tie a tie.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. President Joe Biden also attended the event on Wednesday and paid tribute to Black Americans serving in the military during his first visit to the Pentagon since taking office, vowing to embrace diversity as a strength at a time of racial reckoning inside the Defense Department. (Oliver Contreras/The New York Times)
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. President Joe Biden also attended the event on Wednesday and paid tribute to Black Americans serving in the military during his first visit to the Pentagon since taking office, vowing to embrace diversity as a strength at a time of racial reckoning inside the Defense Department. (Oliver Contreras/The New York Times)

Q: What do you think are some of the biggest issues or obstacles for young African Americans today?

A: We need to address our educational systems. Too many times we allow young African American males and females to throw in the towel when it comes to education. In addition, we need to address our accessibility to resources such as health care. I think that the most important thing we need to address is bridging that wealth gap.

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FILE--The late Thurgood Marshall, shown in this 1989 file photo, the first black member of the Supreme Court and a towering civil rights leader, began giving the FBI information about the civil rights movement in the 1950s despite his outspoken criticism of the bureau, USA Today reported Monday, Dec. 2, 1996. Marshall passed along information about a dissident NAACP leader in North Carolina and about other civil rights leaders who were advocating violence in the state, a June 4, 1959, memo from the FBI's New York office indicates. (AP Photo/National Geographic Society, ho)
FILE--The late Thurgood Marshall, shown in this 1989 file photo, the first black member of the Supreme Court and a towering civil rights leader, began giving the FBI information about the civil rights movement in the 1950s despite his outspoken criticism of the bureau, USA Today reported Monday, Dec. 2, 1996. Marshall passed along information about a dissident NAACP leader in North Carolina and about other civil rights leaders who were advocating violence in the state, a June 4, 1959, memo from the FBI's New York office indicates. (AP Photo/National Geographic Society, ho)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

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Q: How has your ethnicity, background or heritage influenced your career decisions or goals for the future?

A: I was taught about power figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, John Lewis. Looking at these figures who happen to be African American, who happen to be true shakers and movers of their time. They truly inspired me to go down my path of servant leadership. I’ve always had a passion for politics and I think that came from lack of representation when I was growing up.

ExploreRELATED: All Americans need Black History Month
Makenzie Hoeferlin
Makenzie Hoeferlin

Dayton Daily News contributor Makenzie Hoeferlin is editor-in-chief of the Wright State Guardian.