Reverend and Director of Essential Skills and Community Relations for Richland Community College
Who was your first mentor in life?
In my younger years, my first mentor would have been my mother, Rinda Carson, and my father, Joe Jarrett. Today, because I have a multifaceted approach to living life, I have found these men to be great Mentors in my life: Armar Washington, Rev. Tony Carson, Rev. Dr. C.d Stuart, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. Marvin Joyner, and Dr. Cris Valdez. All of these God-fearing men of valor exemplify strength, fearlessness, kindness, and faithfulness. For me, all of these men have been a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
What was your most memorable lesson?
The High school football fight in 1999 at Eisenhower High school is my most memorable lesson. It illuminated the fact that God can allow a bad situation to work together for the good. It also taught me the power of prayer; trouble and perplexity drive us to pray, and prayer drives away perplexity and trouble. I believe that God used that moment in my life to direct me – God had to light a fire under me to motivate change. I remember Rev. Jackson saying to us, “Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. And in the end, faith will not disappoint. Faith, hope, and dreams will prevail.
What does community mean to you?
Family! It represents tension and promise, where different dimensions of the human experience meet and shape one another. We are all participants in a diverse portion of the universe; therefore, we teach one another by our embodied diversity — our astonishing differences and our surprising commonalities.
Why are you involved in the community?
I believe that I am called to help heal the wounds of the world by being actively involved in bettering the lives of others. I understand that the way I feel about America reflects the way I live as an African American. I love America, so I always ask the questions that “burn fiercely in the heart.” Hebrew Bible scholar, Ken Stone, said, “To question is not to destroy.” I believe that questioning brings our contemporary lives and concerns into conversation with tradition, seeking insights and learning from the contradictions between them. When we have done so, we are better informed to help others more effectively. I believe if we can all suppress our egos, ideology, organizational, and denominational differences, we could really love and understand one other without distorting our own personal values. When black people can accept white people for loving to be white, and when white people can accept black people for loving to be black, and every other color of people love one another for which their maker beautifully and fundamentally made them, then we can truly be called children of God and a nation of love. When that happens, we will then see God’s will done on earth as His will is done in heaven. When we die, there will be no black, white, or colored sections in heaven. We all die with red blood. I often ask myself: Do we, as so-called “Americans” truly care about the future of America? More importantly, do we care about the future of our communities? So, knowing all of these truths, I typically ask myself a second question: How am I going to respond to certain practices that either haunt or help our world, country, state, city, and community?
What advice would you give to people who want to do more?
You are only as great as your greatest challenge, and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you; just be sure to understand God’s purpose for strengthening you. You can be the most successful person at work, the most religious person at church, and the most respected person in the community, but if you are not taking care of the family that God has blessed you with then, you are just doing good work, for other people, on your way to hell because you neglected your first responsibility.
And. .as always. . Stay Blessed And Productive!