Mr. Fred Vernon, owner of KLV Ventures, is Black Business Men of Southeast Texas Man of the Year. Fred, a native of Port Arthur, has committed to building his corporate headquarters in his hometown. This move will provide job opportunities for the citizens of Port Arthur and aid in economic development. Mr. Vernon has put self aside and thought about his fellow man by reaching back to help others. He has been actively involved in the community by providing resources after hurricane Harvey, donating his time to inspire students, donating Christmas toys and countless other efforts. Fred was nominated to be featured as Man of the Week in June of 2017 for his willingness to help others and give back to his community. His dedication to his family and community regardless of his success makes him Man of the Year!
Christopher “Chris” Senegal is a 34-year-old entrepreneur currently focused on railroad business development consulting, real estate investing, and passionately encouraging others to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Born in Lake Charles, LA, he was a highly gifted student but was expelled from the 8th grade for selling alcohol at school (overcoming bad decisions is a part of life). Chris unexpectedly became a full-time father at 16, but did not let it deter him from a successful future. He earned a full academic scholarship for engineering to Southern University where he pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Post-baccalaureate he worked in corporate America for 10 years, and concurrently invested in real estate beginning in 2009. After a promising corporate career in Engineering, Industrial Operations, Sales and Business Development, Chris left to pursue his entrepreneurial passions full time in 2015. Chris has been credited with facilitating several people into entrepreneurship and developing countless partnerships that created multiple income streams for others. His son is currently an entrepreneur and a highly sought after academic recruit for several universities.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. After following all the rules, including attending college on a full academic scholarship for engineering and getting into the corporate world, I quickly realized I was sold a dream and it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the next 40 years. So, I immediately began the quest to learn how to control my own income, time and legacy. I could not let anyone else dictate that for me.
Q. What prompted you to enter the real estate industry?
A. After starting with stock and options trading, I realized there were to many variables I could not control. Real estate was more hands-on and I knew that 80% of first generation wealth was created through real estate. That was very attractive to me.
Q. What are some challenges that you have faced as an entrepreneur and how have you handled them?
A. The biggest challenge that I have faced is knowing that if I don’t produce, then I don’t have income. There is no safety net. I have done deals where I have lost money but I treat those as entrepreneurial tuition. Each loss taught me something that allowed me to excel at the next opportunity. I always utilize those experiences to take a step back, adjust my approach and continue pursuing the goal.
Q. A lot of people see entrepreneurs as being a boss, and an envied position. What are some disadvantages of being an entrepreneur that few realize?
A. There is no training manual nor corporate structure. I am the decision maker and the sole reason an opportunity is realized or missed. Being a boss simply means everyone around you depends on your judgment and your guidance so there’s no opportunity to call in sick, take long lunches or ride the clock. I must produce!
Q. You were involved in getting resources to the city of Port Arthur after hurricane Harvey. What motivated you to give back?
A. It wasn’t motivation, it was instinctive. My city was in need and I had access to a team that was willing and able to pool our resources to deliver relief. My good friend, Brian Washington, also a PA native, was instrumental in that process through his position as youth pastor at Copperfield Church in Houston. We were able to assist him and fill up several eighteen-wheeler truckloads of disaster relief supplies and wade through the high waters to get to PA.
Q. What is one thing that you know about being a business owner now that you wish you had known when you started?
A. I did not need my own: 1. knowledge, 2. money, nor 3. credit. In business, the most successful entities leverage the capital, experience and balance sheets of other entities. When you can create a mutual benefit from all parties involved, a success curve is a lot shorter. The stresses are a lot less because all the pressures to carry the weight in all categories isn’t just on you. If I would have known this starting out, I could’ve focused solely on the responsibilities of running the business. Knowing that I could’ve found the money and the team I needed based on them believing in me makes a difference.
Q. If you could give an aspiring entrepreneur one single piece of advice what would it be and why?
A. Read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. That book was written by a newspaper journalist who interviewed the 100 most successful people alive at the time. It was about the 13 principles and beliefs they all had in common. These principles and beliefs are still 100 percent applicable today.
Q. Imagine you were given the opportunity to give the commencement address for your old high school's 2018 graduation. What would be your message to the seniors? Why?
A. Although your education has taught you that collaborating is cheating and copying is wrong, in real life you can become extremely successful by collaborating with and duplicating the efforts of other successful people. You do not have to think that you must start from scratch. You can find people successful in whatever you choose to endeavor and heed their advice.
Q. Entrepreneurs usually have very busy, long days. How do you juggle all your ventures and activities?
A. For me, every business venture I have is something that excites me and I’m passionate about. I enjoy every minute I spend doing what I do. I focus on the solutions to the obstacles I face instead of throwing pity parties when obstacles occur. I prioritize the important activities every morning and always stay flexible for unforeseen changes.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. God first. My life’s circumstances, including becoming a teenage father. My inherent drive for excellence and my passion to be an example to others who desire to become their own boss but need guidance from someone with a higher risk tolerance. Some people need someone like myself to be willing to bump my head and be in a position to prevent them from bumping theirs.
Audwin Millard Samuel is the only child born to the late Dorothy Brailsford-Samuel and Millard Fillmore Samuel. He was born September 20, 1954 in Newton, Texas. The early part of his life was spent in the piney woods of East Texas. His mother was a school teacher in Burkeville and his father was a school teacher in Kirbyville.
In 1965, his family moved to Beaumont, Texas and he attended Beaumont public schools. While in high school, he was a three-letterman athlete participating in football, basketball and track. In 1972, he graduated from Beaumont High School and furthered his education at Lamar University on a football scholarship. Audwin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Lamar University and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
Audwin has a wide variety of work experience. His experiences include working as a Process Operator with Gulf Oil Corporation, a Marketing Executive with Xerox Corporation, a Marketing Executive with Mutual of New York Insurance Company, a Director of the Minority Business Development Center of Southeast Texas, a Law Clerk with Provost, Umphery Law Firm, a Solo Practitioner of law in the Law Office of Samuel & Associates for over 20 years and Senior Attorney with the Samul & Son Law Firm.
He has committed himself to public service, striving to help make his community a better place. Audwin has served as a school board trustee for the Beaumont Independent School District and as a city council member for the City of Beaumont for over 25 years in addition to serving on numerous other boards and commissions.
While on the Beaumont City Council, he has served as Mayor Pro Tem and served on the Audit Committee. As councilman, he has represented the City of Beaumont on a state and national level. He has served on the state level with the Texas Municipal League Policy Committee and the Texas Attorney General’s Municipal Advisory Committee. Audwin has been recognized nationally for his work with the National League of Cities. As a member of the NLC he has served on the Board of Directors, served as President of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, chaired the NLC’s Programs Committee, chaired the NLC’s Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and chaired the NLC’s Public Safety & Crime Prevention Committee where he was chosen to testify before the United States Congress regarding Homeland Security.
Audwin has been married to Carolyn Broussard-Samuel for 36 years. They have three adult children: Tracy Samuel, Sean Villery-Samuel, and Audrea Samuel-Whitmore. Audwin and his wife are the proud grandparents of Kinsgton, a five year old grandson, and Elena, a two year old granddaughter.
Q. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in law?
A. When I got into public service as a city councilman I felt that for me to be a good legislator I needed to understand the law. I needed to understand how laws are written and how they come into fruition. I decided to go to law school because I wanted to be a good public servant.
Q. Why did you decide to open your own office?
A. I’ve always had difficulty in conforming to what others wanted me to be. I have difficulty in holding my peace when I am disturbed about consequences of actions. For me to be free to express what is on my mind and do the things that I feel necessary not only for my well-being, but for the well-being of my family, friends and community, I chose to open my own office. By doing so I do not have to stay within the confines of those that hired me.
Q. A few years back, you wanted to move your office to a location in old town and you were denied the permit to do so. However, after your denial a restaurant was given the approval to open in the close vicinity of your proposed office location. What are your feelings regarding that situation?
A. I believe that all things that happen in our lives happen for a reason. I believe that it was not a part of God’s plan for me to be there. It is what I wanted, but it is not necessarily what I want, but it is what HE wants. I felt like the basis of the denial was bogus, but it is what it is and I can’t change that. I look at it as though it was not a part of God’s plan for me to be there.
Q. Have you ever felt as though you were being treated unfairly due to your race in the courtroom? If so, how did you deal with it?
A. Yes. Being a Black man raised in the south, at my age now, I accept some things as being a part of the life that I live. There have been times where judges have made rulings that I feel were contrary to the law. I believed the decision to make the ruling that was contrary to the law was based on the other attorney. Some may say it was just because of familiarity with the other attorney. At the time, I believed it had to do with my client and that it was racially motivated. However, I have learned to understand those things when I see them. It doesn’t mean that I have to accept them. I will respond at the appropriate time. There is a time and place for everything. There is a time to stand up and fight. There is a time to take note and remain silent and a time to fight another day. I tend to take them as they occur. Sometimes I will make my expressions and there are times that I will suppress my feelings to get better clarity, seek more information, or choose a different route of confronting that truth.
Q. As a city council member, what suggestions do you have for dealing with the increased crime in Beaumont?
A. As a council member, I think that we have to always look at the evolution of time. When I say that I mean we have to look at new trends. The things that we do in 2017 may be totally different from the way it was done in 2007 or 1997. There are several factors that go into what creates an environment for an increase in crime. It could be the aging community. It could be the transition of the populous. It could be economic change in the surrounding cities. I evaluate all factors around and make an assessment based on those factors. Then, I try to utilize that in making decisions on how best to deal with it.
For example, we watch neighborhoods change. As neighborhoods change from being predominantly homeowners to predominantly renters that brings about change in the lifestyle in the community. Those are factors that we have to look at. We have to look at the different policing practices. Now there is a policing practice, community policing, that has shown to be effective. With this practice, the individuals within the community get to know the officers that are actually enforcing laws and moving through that community.
This is important because if the neighbors don’t know the people that are serving their community they are less likely to talk to those who are serving their community. When you have familiarity, you have more communication. When you have more communication, you have more understanding. With more understanding comes more trust. That is an example of different policing styles. For different parts of the country and different makeups of the city there are different policing styles. It is different policing in urban areas than it is in rural areas. It is different policing in areas where most of the people are walking in the community as opposed to a community where most of the people are riding in cars on major thoroughfares. There are so many factors that go into making up the change in policing.
Q. What advice do you have for young black men that are possibly heading down the wrong path?
A. Consequences. For every action, there are consequences. We are free. We are given some freedom of choice and some freedom of making our own decisions. With that freedom comes the consequences that have to be paid at some point. I tell any young person you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions. Quick, easy money, is normally an indication that you are going down the wrong road and sooner or later it is going to catch up with you. The consequences will result in being caught up in a system that doesn’t care about individuals. It is a system that will beat a person down.
Q. Why did you decide to be on the city council?
A. I felt that I could make a difference. I believe that I bring a different perspective to the position. 1) I care about my community. I have a love for my community. 2) I have no problem showing that love through the dedication of my work. I have been in this community most of my life. Now I have encountered generations within families. I know the grandmother, mother, son, nephews, grandsons, great-nephews. I know families now and they know me. I have always been one to treat people as I would like to be treated. I let my actions speak for itself. I believe those are the things that help to develop relationships that are based on truths and understanding. I believe that is why I have been able to serve my community. I love my community and most people understand that.
Q. Many have suggested that you run for mayor of Beaumont. Would you consider it? Why or why not?
A. No. The position of mayor isn’t much different from what I do now. I represent the city of Beaumont, generally. Specifically, I represent ward 3. However, for ward 3 to be all that it can be, I have to make sure that all the areas of our city can be all that it can be. When ward 3 progresses, so does the city of Beaumont. If the city of Beaumont fails, ward 3 fails. I tend to look at things in its totality. I look at things from the broader spectrum and narrow it down to the smaller. There are times that I have to look at the small piece in comparison to the big.
The mayor has one vote, just like me. The only difference between a mayor and a council member is the people that elect them. Right now, I don’t have to get votes from all over the city. But I still have one vote. I have gotten old. It is not about the look. It is not about a title. I am just trying to serve. I can have the same impact from where I am as a council member without having to deal with all of the other stuff that comes along with running for mayor or being mayor.
Q. You were very visible during Hurricane Harvey and afterwards with the subsequent flooding that devastated our area. Why did you choose to be so vocal and visible?
A. I was concerned about the lies, rumors and false information that was being projected to the people. Much of that information was bringing about fear. It was bringing about apprehension and division. Rather than accepting that, I choose to address it. I do believe I have proven that I will not do things to divide or for personal motives. I am going to speak the truth. As I began to do that, I began to see a difference. Because I saw a difference I continued to speak the truth so that others would be able to have the truth and I hoped that it would calm some people down in the midst of stress, tensions, confusion, and turmoil that goes along with being in perilous times.
Q. Operating your own business, being on the city council and maintaining all of your other obligations are very stressful. How do you unwind after a long day?
A. But for Grace! I can’t really say that I ever truly unwind. My method of dealing with it is by placing it into perspective and into categories. I pray that God orders my steps. I pray that He gives me the knowledge, the understanding, and the wisdom to take the things that are going on around me and use it in a manner that would be pleasing to Him. At the end of the day, I can say I did all that I could do. Most of the time that is enough for me. I have good days and days that are a little bit better. I have days that are a little more difficult. It is at those times that I try to reach within to understand that it is not my surroundings but it is me, and I try to refocus. That is how I deal with it.
I unwind when I lay my head down, regardless of how long that it is. Sometimes it is a 15 minute nap, and sometimes it is a 30 minute nap. I get four, five hours at the most of sleep. I enjoy my family. I adore my granddaughter and grandsons. I love my children. That brings me joy. That is my relaxation and how I unwind.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. God. To God be the Glory. I believe it is not me. It is a seed that was planted a long time ago. I am a product of my grandmother and my grandfather. They begat my mother, who then begat me. I am a part of that lineage so I stand on their shoulders. It wasn’t me. I’m just another soul. I had them to watch and listen to. They were individuals that didn’t profess “doing what I say,” but they showed me what to do through their actions. My grandfather was a principal back in the 40’s and 50’s. My mother and my father were educators in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I went into education for a while. Now, two of my children are teachers. That tells me that it wasn’t me. It is a seed that has continued to reproduce. That is what I attribute my success to: those who came before me.
Q. Is there anything else that you would like the readers to know?
A. One of the things that I have found in serving is that I believe in a divine being. I believe that that divine being put us all here for a reason. We all have unique talents. We have unique gifts that He has given us to give to others. We can’t truly allow those gifts to materialize and blossom until we look beyond ourselves and look to the community in which we live. It is what we do for others that allows our communities to grow and prosper.
I say to anyone, we have to look beyond self because the direction in which we are going has already been written. If we are going to make this a better place for ourselves, our children, our mothers and fathers, we are going to have to look beyond self. In the atmosphere that we are in today, we are in a battle. However, this battle is not against flesh and blood. It is not against people. It is against spirits. The spirits that lie within each one of us because we were created in sin. We have both spirits, the spirts of good and evil. Flesh versus spirit. We must identify our battle. It is not as we go each day. It is not about the color of our skin, religion or economic status. It is about what we are allowing to be seen in us. We have to be conscious of how we treat others and how we talk to others because that is what we are letting show. In this world, we are seeing the evil spirits, the darkness. It is not new. It’s been here. Folks are saying we are going back to the same old thing. No, it’s been here all along. We have to be aware and be woke so that we can see them and call it out. Right now, we have to stand against injustice. We have to stand against inequity. We have to stand against hate. We have to stand against evil spirits. We have to stand against the darkness. The easiest way to allow that darkness to spread is by dimming your light. We have to let our light shine. We have to call darkness out when we see it. We have to be willing to stand and fight against it. That is the battle and it never goes away.
Gregory W. Clark Jr. first and foremost is a family man, and a man that loves God. Gregory graduated from Central High School in 2007. After high school, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2012 from Sam Houston State University. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership & Management from Sam Houston State University in 2014. Gregory married the love of his life, Amber Clark, M.Ed. in 2012, and had his first child with Amber in 2013. With hard work, dedication, and determination, Gregory is now one of the proudest United States Federal Probation Officers. While attending the Federal Law Enforcement Training Program in Charleston, South Carolina he earned the “Top Gun” Award 2016 and FLETC Director’s Awards 2016 for the New Officer Training Program representing his district well.
Gregory also serves as an Adjunct Professor (CRIJ 1306 Court Systems & Practices) at Lamar State College Port Arthur. As an adjunct faculty member, Gregory provides program instruction in an online format, incorporating innovative teaching methodologies, cutting edge technologies and other industry trends reflecting advancements in your discipline. In addition to these things Gregory is active in the community and has established himself as a young African American professional among departmental and court staff. Gregory is active in several professional organizations such Rotaract. Rotaract is a junior version of Rotary, which allows individuals under the age of 30 to plan activities and projects in the Jefferson County community.
Gregory was selected as the youngest 40 UNDER 40 recipient. It is an award given to forty professionals under the age of forty in Southeast Texas.
In the Spring of 2017, Gregory was ordained as a Youth Pastor at The Gospel of Jesus Christ Church, serving under Bishop Castile Colbert Jr. Gregory was taught by his father at home that a man has to work hard to provide for his family and is a firm believer of Ecclesiastes 11:6. Gregory is also the owner of G2A Enterprises, and is learning from his uncle Cornell Price, Founder and Manager of CMP3 Enterprises, how to be a successful entrepreneur. Gregory’s goal is to continue to be a pillar in the community, a role model to the youth, a good husband to his wife, Amber R. Clark, M.Ed., and father to his beautiful four-year old daughter, Abigail Marie. He strives to be the son that his parent’s Terrell & Chantail Green can be proud of.
Gregory’s career experience and educational background, accompanied by his determination, and most importantly his faith in God will aide as a road map to fulfilling his vision to serve the people in his community.
Q. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in Criminal Justice?
A. There was a situation that occurred when I was a sophomore in college. I was pulled over by local law enforcement, for one reason or another. I suspect it was because of the rims and style of my vehicle. They searched my vehicle and kept me on the side of the road for at least an hour. They called for backup, and other officers arrived at the scene. After about an hour of searching my vehicle, verbal abuse, and being embarrassed, they allowed me to leave without writing me a ticket. I assume they profiled my vehicle and thought I may have had drugs in the car. At that moment, I knew I needed to learn my rights as a citizen to protect myself from injustice! I talked to a friend who was majoring in Criminal Justice, did my research, and switched my major the following semester.
Q. What are some of the methods that you use to assist offenders with transitioning back into society?
A. I do my best to be understanding to their situation. I do not generalize offenders. No offender is the same and each one has their own set of challenges to face when they return to the community. I have family members that have been to prison and have had to transition back into society. Therefore, learning from their situations, my goal is always to provide them with the resources they need to be successful. These resources consist of housing assistance, employment assistance, vocational training, Evidence Based Practices, and being a mentor to those who need it.
Q. If you could change anything about your profession what would it be and why?
A. There are so to say “bad apples” in every bunch. If I could change anything about my profession, I would remove the people who lack compassion and empathy, and that desire to serve the community. Those bad apples spoil the bunch and taint the image of the criminal justice system. We also need to remember that the goal of the criminal justice system is to Protect and Serve our communities. We get so enthralled with the protecting which is apparent in the paramilitary structure of most of Americas police departments, we often forget that we are here to serve our community.
Q. What are some programs that you would like to see in place to assist in improving relations between law enforcement and the public?
A. Specifically, in Beaumont, Texas I would like to see a program that provided training for high school students interested in careers in public safety, law enforcement, criminal justice, and fire sciences. I believe if we implemented a program of this magnitude in Beaumont, Texas we would see a more diverse public servant population that reflected the genetic make-up of our community. I believe this would be part of the solution, to the under representation of minorities, and remove the practice of disparate hiring practices.
I would also like to see more community policing efforts implemented, such as foot patrolling, and door to door surveys. The goal would be for officers to become more familiar with the community they patrol, and for the community to become more familiar with them. Research has proven that simple efforts like foot patrol and door to door surveys, improve satisfaction with police service, and increase satisfaction with neighborhoods.
Q. What is your opinion on the number of officer involved shootings where the officer is not found guilty of a crime?
A. I am angered and saddened when I see the encounters with law enforcement that end in death, especially after the evidence proves these victims have committed no crime. To see anyone not held accountable for committing a murder is an injustice to the American people. I am glad however for social media and technology. This has happened for years, but has remained undocumented in the media. Technology and social media now brings life and recognition to these incidents which were previously covered up.
Q. Are there any misconceptions about probation officers that you would like to address?
A. As a United States Probation Officer, the misconception seems to be that our goal is to “trail em, nail em, & jail em”, but that is not the case. The goal is not to send anyone back to prison. I can honestly say that the majority of the people I work with, genuinely want to see anyone placed on supervision succeed. The government provides us with training and a vast amount of resources so that we are prepared for our offenders and the challenges they are faced with once placed on supervision.
Q. There have been rumors that during the recent hurricane inmates were treated unfairly. What are your thoughts on the topic?
A. I have not heard any of those rumors. However, if there is truth in these rumors, the grievance processes should be utilized and the family members of those inmates should contact the facilities and speak with someone in management. When incidents are not documented, it’s as though it did not occur. I have family members that are currently incarcerated on the state and federal level. I know my family would be the first to make calls, and speak with someone if we were informed they were treated unfairly or their 8thamendment right was violated.
Q. What is your favorite motivational quote? Why?
A. “No Sacrifice, No Victory”. I’m not sure where this quote originated, however it has proven to be true in my life. My understanding that there cannot be a victory without sacrifice, removed the enabler that is instant gratification. I have applied the theory of No Sacrifice, No Victory in my professional life, personal life, and as the head of my home both financially and spiritually. I’ve applied it in my relationship with Jesus Christ, and in every business venture. This helps me to live a disciplined life and to understand that nothing in life comes free!
Q. If you could be doing anything different, would you? Why?
A. No, I enjoy my career. I enjoy serving my community, and being a public servant. A United States Probation Officer is not who I am, and it does not define me. However, it is a great profession and it allows me to be an “agent of change.”
Q. If you could tell your 16-year old self anything, what would it be and why?
A. Surround yourself with real people! Everyone does not mean you well. Learn to discern the real from the fake. You’re going to experience heart break, pain, and betrayal. However, it will only make you stronger and a better person. Most importantly, you’re going to meet a young lady named Amber Alexander. Listen up “G”, stay with that young lady! Treat her with the utmost respect, build memories, and do not let anything separate ya’ll. She is going to be a catalyst to your success, and happiness in life.
Brandon Johnson is the son of Bertha and Willie G. Johnson Sr. and sibling to Brandi (twin sister) and Willie Johnson Jr (brother). He was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. Brandon is the owner/broker at Realty Depot of Texas, a real estate company that spans throughout the Golden Triangle and surrounding areas all the way to the greater Houston area. Brandon became a real estate broker on 12/1/2016 after being an agent for only 4 short years! His passion for real estate began when he saw the return on his initial investment on his first rental property. This lead him to construct his first real estate company, Brandon Johnson Investments LLC. Brandon has been buying, selling, and investing in real estate for the last 7 years and is in the process of starting a class to teach people how to invest in real estate without using their own capital! Brandon’s biggest passion is helping and educating others to become the best person that they can be!
His latest venture is the Brandon Johnson- Believe and Achieve Foundation, where he plans to mentor disadvantaged youth through programs helping them learn trades. He plans to offer scholarships to kids that would like to attend his Alma Mater, Lamar University or an HBCU. Prior to starting these ventures, Brandon attended Lamar University where he financed his education by working at Ashley Furniture and Conns as a salesman. He graduated in December of 2008 with a degree in Business. Brandon also joined the prestigious fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi (Zeta Psi chapter) where achievement is the core principal of the organization. Brandon Johnson will be 32 Aug. 21, 2017. He dedicates his success to GOD 1st, friends, family, the special lady of his life, Wafa, and every person who had to struggle in life but made the conscious decision not to give up and make their dreams come true!
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. My ultimate goal was never to become an entrepreneur. I just wanted to be able to provide for a wife, children and help my parents out in the future. All my hard work and dedication to my career just fell in line with becoming an entrepreneur. I fell in love with challenging myself and setting the bar higher after accomplishing goals that I had attained. Who would have thought that God would allow me to make my hobby into a career that would become an heirloom to my children one day!
Q. Why did you choose Real Estate as a career?
A. When I was younger, both my father and cousin were investors. They instilled in me the basic fundamentals which allowed me to learn and become eager to one day build on the knowledge they provided. I fell in love with something that would one day become my passion, hobby and livelihood. I began my journey as an investor. Shani Daigle was my realtor at the time. She would later be the one who influenced me to obtain my real estate license and she eventually became my broker.
Q. Owning a home is often considered as part of “The American Dream.” Do you believe that statement?
A. I believe freedom and equality are the American Dream!! Anyone can become a home owner by working hard and having discipline. If you don’t think that is possible, give Realty Depot of Texas a call at 409-678-HOME or 832-992-HOME and we can make you a believer!!
Q. Is Real Estate your dream career industry? If not, what else would you like to do?
A. Real Estate has become a hobby as well as a way of life. I put it right up there with fishing and hunting! The thing about Real Estate is you have so many avenues to make money. You can be a builder, a landlord, property manager, Real Estate agent, Real Estate Broker, flipping properties, wholesale, or the actual company/person that renovates homes. Real Estate investing has made more millionaires than the stock market or the lottery. It’s third on the wealth producing chart behind oil and inheritance.
Q. You are active in the community. What are some future events that you would like to see to help bring the community together?
A. I’m pretty active but not as active as I would love to be. I have a non-profit organization, Brandon Johnson- Believe and Achieve Foundation. My board and I are diligently working to be more productive and active in the community. We give an Easter Egg Hunt every year. I believe events such as this or the Old School Sunday Funday that Shani Daigle hosts are amazing! I’m all for any event that promotes love and unity, especially youth programs! We are all GOD’s children.
Q. As a young successful Black man what advice do you have for young men that may be headed down the wrong path?
A. Young people are very impressionable and the system is set up to imprison young black men…it’s a business! I would tell them not to buy into the hype, don’t fall into temptation and peer pressure. Be an individual and focus on ownership! A college degree is great but most of the time it sets you up to work for someone else. Think ownership and think of ways to make legal money. Our young black men don’t focus on being “the man” but being A MAN. These are two very different things.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. I owe my success to various people and all the opportunities that GOD has blessed me with. First GOD because without him nothing is possible. He is the giver and taker of all. I also owe a great deal to Wafa, she helped me grow up a lot. I always tell people if I had never met her I would probably still be in college trying to find my way. Of course, my parents, friends, family, clients, investors, MERDE Group, Prominent Home Builders and all of those that has invested love and time into me. The haters too! You can’t forget to thank them. It was a lot of people who didn’t expect me to make it, and still root for my failure. Even family told me I wouldn’t amount to anything or finish school. I used the negativity to fuel my passion to succeed as well. I also have to give a big thanks to Verizon Wireless. This company took me from a very humbling place in my life where I struggled financially. They gave me an opportunity to live a life that I dreamed for and enjoy. Last but not least, my team at Realty Depot of Texas. They are so amazing! I ask so much of them and they always seem to amaze me. We are in the process of starting the property management division of the company as well as other projects.
Q. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy? What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced and how did you deal with it?
A. The biggest challenge is walking by faith and not by sight. Ultimately you have to take risks and trust the process! I never know how many houses we will close, how many we will list, or if we will lose a client. A number of things could happen, but I talk to the people that care about me a lot, work hard and pray a lot harder!! I promise you I’ll out work your realtor any day of the week! I work hard pray harder and trust GOD.
Q. What motivates you to keep going?
A. My biggest motivation is my future wife, kids and family. It was never the money but the freedom and ability to live life on my own terms. I believe life should be fun. I just want to enjoy this one life that GOD has blessed me with.
Q. What is the best piece of advice that you were ever given and who gave it to you?
A. Less is more! Chris Sam
My aunt Shirley told me don’t confuse movement with progress because you can run in place and never get anywhere.
Dreams without goals remain dreams and ultimately fuel disappointment! I heard Denzel Washington say it, but I apply it to my life daily
Treat others as you want to be treated. Everyone I’ve ever met since I was 2 years old has said this. I truly believe the world would be a better place if everyone lived by that credo!
Last but not least, once I reach my goals reach back and help the next young brother achieve his!
Christopher Williams, is “Everybody’s Motivator”! He is an author, motivational speaker and teen peak performance coach with a “take life by the horns” attitude and winning personality. Through his charisma, humor and thought-provoking insight, he ENERGIZES, EMPOWERS and brings out the EXTRAORDINARY in everyone. Christopher’s story is one of personal trial and triumph. Growing up in Silsbee, Texas Christopher thought he didn’t “Measure Up” and was totally absorbed in devastating self talk that led him to a life of destructive activity and grave insecurity. He was “SINKING FAST” and caught in a cyclone of despair; destined to “DIE WITHOUT PURPOSE”.
Christopher’s life was redeemed only by a timely revelation that there was “GREATNESS” inside of him, and that he need only DIG DEEP within to reveal the TREASURE of a DYNAMIC DESTINY. Through trial and error, numerous successes and failures, Christopher has carved a unique yet uncompromising path through the unforgiving terrain of life. It is from this path that he ENCOURAGES the dreamer in their dream, GUIDES the lost until they find their way and STRENGTHENS the broken to stand confidently and courageously.
After graduating from Prairie View A&M University in 2001 with a Bachelors in Sports Medicine/Athletic Training, Christopher formed his own training company, CLW Enterprises. CLW Enterprises is a personal development and social services company that provides motivational media, learning forums and personal peak performance coaching programs. He is also the founder of Tru “U” University, a mentoring organization specializing in dropout prevention, professional development for educators of At-Risk Teens, scholastic motivation and leadership development for youth and teens.
Christopher has remained a highly sought-after speaker and trainer for professionals, elite school districts, universities, Fortune 500 companies, professional sports organizations, churches, and international ministries as well as social advocacy agencies and mentoring groups. Christopher is best liked because he is a “Go Getter” and developer of extraordinary leaders.
He has trained with and shared the stage with International Leadership Expert, John Maxwell; Best Selling Author and Global Ambassador Dr. Myles Munroe and Motivational Icon, Les Brown. Christopher has also worked with Hall of Fame athletes, Deion Sanders, Darren Woodson, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin during the 1998-’99,’ 99-2000 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Christopher’s dynamic approach to personal and organizational empowerment has made him the favorite of corporate and community organizations. He is a trusted resource and reliable go-to guy for many organizations.
Locally he serves as School and Community Liaison for Communities In Schools of Southeast Texas. He’s an active board member for The Community Coalition of Beaumont Texas and Special At-Risk Advisor for IEA (Inspire, Encourage, Achieve) and Ben’s Kids. He serves as a Charlton Pollard Neighborhood Ambassador and King’s Club Teen Advisor at the Plymouth Village Community Center. He is the father of two wonderful sons, Nicholas and Samuel who both attend Westbrook High School in Beaumont ISD. He is married to his beautiful wife of 18 years, Rita; and they both teach Young Adult Sunday School at Paradise Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.
Christopher’s personal motto is “Learn. Do. Teach.” His message has impacted thousands of people in bustling urban communities and tranquil rural settlements. Utilizing powerful delivery and newly emerging insights, Christopher Williams is swiftly becoming one of the area’s leading authorities in understanding and stimulating human potential. He is truly, Everybody’s Motivator.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. My father and mother inspired me to become an entrepreneur. They always encouraged my siblings and I to seek to “own our own ideas.” They were always involved in business ventures that created personal wealth and empowered others to do the same. They’ve been in business for themselves for over 35 years; myself 18 years. Their example instilled in me the ethics of hard work, personal investment and giving back; key essentials of being an entrepreneur.
Q. What does success mean to you?
A. I’ve always believed that success is relative to your own personal journey. Earl Nightingale said, “Success is whatever an individual sets out to achieve, pursue and attain.” I believe this is the truest since of success. It allows you to be original in your endeavors and unique in your purpose.
Q. What led to you becoming a motivational speaker?
A. I’ve always been inclined to help people. Growing up I observed my parents and many close role models in my life strive to help people. They used their unique gifts and resources to help people in “their unique way.” My way, is words! I use words, action and compassion to help people. As a motivational speaker, I can plant word seeds that evoke action for lasting change. It’s my passion!
Q. Some people have gotten to the point in their life where they aren’t motivated to do anything. How do you inspire people that have lost their hope?
A. I believe everyone has a motivator deep inside of them. Everyone has a sense to live and thrive, its essential to our human existence. The difficulty is often finding out what it is. In my book, The Treasure Within: Guide to Discovering Your Gifts and Talents, I ask four questions that everyone should answer to find their purpose: 1) What are your yearnings? (The things that you want most for your life.) 2) What satisfies you? (An ethical sense of accomplishment that reveals a better you.) 3) What have you learned quickly? (Some natural inclination to an idea or skill set.) 4) What have you done with brilliance? (Some impactful demonstration of skill that ignites your genius.) I believe by answering these four essential questions people can begin to regain a sense of hope and accomplishment; all of which are essential for living a motivated life.
Q. There has been an increase in criminal activity in the area and a lot of people have talked about moving away. What advice do you have for people in the community?
A. I believe resourced people should not leave the community that they’ve invested in. Those who have not invested seem to be the most apt to leave. Resourced people have something to offer. It’s not always monetary, it’s all inclusive of pride, heritage and aptitude to contribute. It was said that “Evil persist when good people do nothing.” The good people out number the bad people! If we increase our good I believe that we will see an immediate change in our communities. One that we can be proud of.
Q. Motivating others can sometimes drain you of your own energy. How do you recharge?
A. I recharge by traveling and playing my drums. I love to see new and exciting places. I love adventures! I’m also an avid drummer. When I’m exhausted, I play my drums until my arms can’t move. Then I take a deep breath and take a nap!
Q. When speaking to a group of teenagers how do you get their attention?
A. When speaking to a group of teenagers, I never BS them! I show them that I’m real, I’m transparent and I’m trustworthy. I offer real answers for teens. They can believe my words. My words are good for them. Teens are very insightful to BS, so I’m honest and I provide insightful, challenging directions; teens love a challenge.
Q. Do you have any advice for single parent households that are struggling to keep their kids on the right path.
A. I’ve always believed that the best way to influence someone is to show them the way. Single parenting doesn’t have to be synonymous with bad parenting. Consistent routines, honest explanations and positive role modeling are essential in all good parenting. Though single parenting poses its own unique set of circumstances (as does all parenting), teaching and walking the right path has no variance.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
A. Steve Harvey said, “There are no million-dollar ideas! There are only $10 ideas that you perfect and continue to duplicate.” An entrepreneur is a person who has an idea, acts on that idea, perfects that idea and benefits from that idea. My advice, get an idea!
Q. If you could tell your 16-year-old self anything, what would it be and why?
A. I would tell my 16-year old self to try harder. I would tell him to give 100% to whatever is good. It may only be for a little while, but when you are engaged in it don’t quit, don’t slack, learn all you can in that thing until it is proven that it has no merit for your life or you advance to the next phase of that activity. At that age, you have a lot of time to try and fail or try and succeed. I think I could’ve been a really good landscaper!
Q. What is your favorite motivational quote? Why?
A. Wayne Dyer quoted, “All that remains is the thing that you’ve dared not to try.” Jesus said, “The only thing that’s impossible is the thing unbelieved.” These quotes open a metaphorical Pandora’s box of possibility for life and accomplishment. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of “it’s not over until you try!” These quotes speak volumes to me.
To book Christopher for speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase his book visit his website at clwmotivate.com.
“Thou shall increase thy greatness and comfort me on every side.” Psalm 71:21 (KJV)
Mr. Henry Jones III is a “sold out for God” gospel artist, musician and clothing designer of God 1st Est. 2010 apparel in Port Arthur, Texas, where he was born and raised. His God 1st clothing has been worn by many including celebrities and others around the world in areas that include the U.S., Greenland, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, and Uganda. As a gospel artist, Henry has performed, both solo and with a live band, songs from his album title, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”
He has performed at venues such as concerts, churches and nursing homes. Henry attends Strong Tower Ministries where he is a percussionist and pianist and he enjoys being an instrument of peace for the Lord.
During the school year, he visits local elementary schools where he is asked to pray with teachers and students. He also reads books to the students and talks to them about the importance of an education. Henry volunteers his time weekly in nursing homes in the Southeast Texas area where he encourages the residents by praying, singing, testifying and preaching God’s word.
Mr. Henry Jones III cherishes the precious moments he shares with his daughter, Jocelyn, and son, Josiah, who both brings joy to his life.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. I was inspired to become an entrepreneur by my now deceased mother. I watched he run her own daycare business from home until she could move it to her own facility. I had always seen her dedication and her drive to serve the community in outstanding ways. She kept her foot on the gas pedal! She was a very hard-working person with a great work ethic.
Q. Why did you decide to start a clothing business?
A. The ministry is number one in my life. I thought, ‘what better way to profess God to the world than by using clothing to get the message across?’
Q. Did you face any obstacles while starting your business? If so, how did you overcome them?
A. Yes, I’ve faced many obstacles running my clothing business. I have found that prayer has been, is and will always be the best way to overcome the obstacles that come my way. I have surrounded myself with positive people and prayer warriors.
Q. The T-Shirt business can be very competitive. How do you set yourself apart from similar businesses and how do you deal with the competition?
A. I believe my business is unique. The God 1st phrase has been in existence for a long time, even before I was thought of. I’d like to think that the God 1st logo leaves a photographic imprint on one’s mind. It encourages one to make a decision in one’s daily walk. I know there are many competitors in the clothing industry. Sometimes others make suggestions of what they would like to see. I have to think outside of the box at times but continue to keep the God 1st message in front of the consumer.
Q. You are also a Gospel singer. How do you balance both businesses?
A. Yes, I am a gospel singer also. Both occupations really work hand-in-hand. Where one goes, the other goes with it. It’s almost like a marriage. They support each other.
Q. What are some suggestions that you may have to keep our young men from becoming statistics?
A. There is a scripture that says “Study to be quiet…” I would advise young men to make it their business to live quietly and peacefully with others and to mind their own affairs and work with their hands.
Q. What is your definition of success?
A. My definition of success is not just how much money I make but it’s about how many people are positively impacted by my life.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. I owe my success to God because He is the one who allows and trusts me to profess His name to all the masses. He has given me this platform.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a clothing business?
A. My advice to anyone who is thinking about starting a business would be to ask the question, “Would you do it if you didn’t make money?” If you are in it for the money, you’re not going to last long at all. It has to be something you love and have a passion for.
Q. What is your favorite quote? Why?
A. My favorite quote is, “The greater the opposition, the greater the blessing.” In 2014, I was on the phone with a friend in Florida and I was feeling discouraged. It was then I could hear the Holy Spirit encourage me with those words. Those are words that I rely on daily.
Fred Vernon is the founder and CEO of KLV Ventures, Incorporated, a Transportation and logistics company that spans all 48 states and is projected to generate over 1.8 million dollars this year. KLV has 15 employees and has an office in Houston and Beaumont. Currently, Fred Vernon is in the process of constructing his latest project, Vernon Strategies Incorporated, a private equity firm based in Houston, Texas. He has an ambition to pursue a Doctorate degree in Public Policy. Fred Vernon has been featured in Cadence magazine, Kush magazine, Southeast Texas Magazine and many other local news outlets due to his early success and community contributions. Prior to Fred Vernon starting KLV in 2012, during his senior year in college, Fred financed his associate, undergraduate, and Masters degrees at Lamar University by becoming a licensed welder and taking on odd jobs as a combination pipe welder and corrections officer for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. Upon completion of a Master’s of Science in Accounting and a MBA from Lamar University, Fred joined the prestigious multinational accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers as a Valuations Specialist. Fred Vernon is 26 years old and dedicates his success to God, his family, and to every person who has fought against the odds to make their dreams a reality.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. Originally, I started my business as just another way to bring money in the door to pay for school. I was a certified welder, a corrections officer, a law firm runner, and community assistant. All the jobs that I worked was so that I could have enough money to pay for school. When the prospect of owning a FedEx route came across my radar, I jumped at the opportunity. Furthermore, I had been introduced to the concept of entrepreneurship on a multi-million dollar scale by Bart Simmons. He owned an oil field service company and an energy company and was a Lamar University graduate as well.
Q. Did you face any obstacles when starting your business? If so, how did you overcome them?
A. I faced three primary obstacles. 1.) Raising capital 2.) lack of experience 3.) lack of time. I didn’t come from a family where I could borrow thousands of dollars to use as startup capital. However, when I was in college I established a reputation of integrity and build relationships with friends that believed in me. Through those relationships I was fortunate to raise the money I needed to start my business. Most people use lack of experience as a reason to hesitate or to not start their business at all. I could have allowed the fact that I was inexperienced as a reason to not start but I simply overcame it by researching my business to the best of my abilities and then manning up and taking the jump without reservation. Additionally, when I decided to take the jump, I quit my fulltime job once I laid out my game plan and that solved the issue of lack of time. Soon after I quit my job I found myself in a situation where I had no other choice but to be successful. Sometimes a “sink or swim scenario” is the best scenario because it breeds creativity and passion.
Q. What does the work success mean to you?
A. Success, to me, is defined by having the political, financial, and human capital and resources to provide safety and a high standard of living for one’s family and friends while simultaneously using those resources to better one’s self, community, and country. Success is the acquisition of power and that power being harnessed to create influence, and that influence being utilized successfully to serve God’s preordained purpose for my life.
Q. How important is giving back to the community to you?
A. It is my opinion that serving one’s family and community is the entire reason for existence. I feel that the resources gained in life shouldn’t be squandered solely on the individual who acquired them, but rather on those who are responsible for helping a person attain the level of success. I honestly believe it is completely impossible for one person to achieve anything on their own, it takes a team.
Q. Have you ever experienced racism during business operations? If so, how did you deal with it?
A. In business, I have been discriminated against and I have experienced biases against myself based on my age and race. These sorts of discrimination may seem different on the surface, however, they are mitigated using the same methodologies, wisdom, patience, and preparedness.
Q. What are some programs that you would like to see in place, or expand, to help our young men and women not become statistics?
A. The 100 Black-Men is an excellent organization that focuses on mentoring young black males in business and in life and should be expanded as much as possible. However, if our people are going to move forward, each teacher and individual who has experienced success in life must make a better effort to invest in other people. Additionally, we must redefine what success looks like to or future generations and the methods to attain success.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
A. If someone wants to be an entrepreneur, I would tell them they must be ready to sacrifice, work hard and do what everyone else is not willing to do in terms of working late, thinking outside the box, and being able to quit their safe job and jump out on faith and take the plunge into the unknown of entrepreneurship.
Q. If you could say anything to your 16-year-old self, what would it be and why?
A. If I could go back in time and tell my 16-year-old self anything, I would tell me to go to class, do co-enrollment and get my associates degree while in high school. Additionally, I would tell me to save my money and enjoy the ride because God has ordered your steps and there is nothing to fear.
Q. If you could run for any political office, what would it be and why?
A. If I could run for political office, I would run for US Congress. I would run for this office so that I could have the ability to shape the laws of this country and be an inspiration for young black men and women. I would hope to show them that they can be anything they desire or choose to be in life, regardless of their back ground and short comings and that their ethnicity is an asset and not a liability.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. I owe my success to God and my family. I believe that if God would not have directed my steps with absolute precision, I would have never started my company and probably would not have graduated from college. I attribute my success to my mother and father as well because of all the years they put into teaching my siblings and I the value of hard work, persistence, and never stopping until a job is done!
Jeffrey Joubert was born in Beaumont, Texas and has lived there his whole life. He is currently the owner of Innovative Designers & Builders LLC with his brother, Willie Joubert. Jeff attended Lamar University and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Inc. Innovative Designers & Builders LLC is a family owned construction company and was established in 2009. Jeffrey and Willie Joubert work hard to design and build new homes that are innovative, built with craftsmanship and deliver enduring value. They take pride in the work that they do and demand the highest quality of construction in every home to ensure customer satisfaction. The Joubert’s not only approach every job with dedication to uncompromising craftsmanship, but with a level of customer service that goes beyond the sale.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. My inspiration for becoming an entrepreneur came solely from my dad. Growing up watching him run his business and do well for himself just motivated me to want to start my own business. So, I decided to take that chance with my brother and start a construction company. At this point we have no regrets about it. It’s been very good to us.
Q. Why did you decide to enter the new home construction industry?
A. I’ve been around construction all my life. My parents owned rental property. They would buy homes, give them some curb appeal and rent them out. I’ve seen remodeling work my entire life. I also wanted to do something that would be challenging so I wouldn’t get bored or lose interest in it. Being a home builder you see something different on every home so it keeps us on our toes and it never gets boring.
Q. As a Black man in a very competitive field, have you ever had to deal with obvious racism? If so, how did you deal with?
A. I think in the beginning we got a few funny looks when we went into different banks. It seemed like they tried to give us the run around and discourage us. However, we were raised not to give up on something we wanted so we kept going until we found the right bank for our needs. Also, there are not a lot of black builders out there so some people of other ethnic backgrounds are sometimes reluctant to use you as a builder. But, if you do a good job and treat people fairly, the word will get around and people will look past the color of your skin and go with you because you’re a good builder.
Q. What are your views on the current state of public education and what are some suggestions for improving the education of children?
A. I believe there are a lot of great teachers out there that work very hard and care passionately about teaching their students. Times have definitely changed from when I was in school. Some of the foolishness you see in schools now would never have taken place back then. I think there should be more things taught about actual real world stuff to better prepare our kids for when they graduate. For example, kids need to know how to manage your money or how to keep your credit good. And they should know how to own your own home instead of renting a home.
Q. As a business man, what are some businesses that you would like to see come to the SETX area?
A. I’d like to see more of the mom and pop business come back to the area. We need more businesses like small restaurants, grocery stores, and hardware stores.
Q. You are a husband and father as well as work a full-time job while operating a business. How do you deal with the stress of day-to-day life?
A. Lol. I get asked this question daily. I think it’s because of my wife and kids that I stay so focused and motivated. I want them to have the best. It does get stressful at times but I just keep my mind on the prize and keep it moving. I also thank GOD daily for putting me in this position and for sending me a very patient wife to deal with my hectic work schedule.
Q. The man is supposed to be the head of the household and is responsible for laying the foundation in the upbringing of a child. What are your views on the statistical data of single-parent homes? Do you have any suggestions to strengthen the bond in Black relationships to keep families together?
A. I imagine that being a single-parent is really tough so I salute all the single parents out there that’s having to raise their kid(s) by themselves. My suggestion for keeping your relationship together is to keep outsiders out of your business and to not give up on it so easily. Marriage takes hard work especially in this day and time with so many temptations out there. Keep God first and have fun with this thing we call life.
Q. What advice would you give to a young Black man that is seeking to start their own business?
A. Believe in yourself and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Be prepared to fail because nine times out of ten your first shot at it will not go perfect. Don’t let failure discourage you. Get back up and keep trying until you get it right.
Q. If you could tell your 18-year old self anything, what would it be and why?
A. BUY PROPERTY!!! The reason I would say that is because 18 years ago property was cheaper than it is now. You could have bought property at a cheap price and sold it at a higher price later because Beaumont has expanded so much.
Q. If you could change anything in the world right now what would it be and why?
A. Cure Cancer. My reason is because so many of us has lost loved ones to Cancer. So many people could still be with us if it wasn’t for Cancer.
Albert Turner was born in Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas on September 12, 1986. He graduated with honors from Central High School in 2005 and went to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas on a full Basketball Athletic Scholarship. He won highest athletic GPA of the Conference Defensive Player of the year and a Conference championship his junior year, which was a lifetime goal. His senior year in college he began to be more focused on the community and the people around him. Mr. Turner ran for SGA President and won. He later became President of the prestigious fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Incorporated. In addition, he joined the debate team and became President of the Student Body Criminal Justice Department. It was during this time that the movie The Great Debaters was filmed at Wiley College. He was blessed with the opportunity to meet Denzel Washington multiple times.
In 2009, Mr. Turner graduated with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Criminal Justice. He worked for the State of Texas for 6 years as a Parole Officer where he advanced to supervising some of the most dangerous clients known as Mentally Ill (MI). Currently, Mr. Turner owns his own businesses. He markets, as well as advertise major community and social events in Southeast Texas. He owns, AJ Turner Enterprise LLC, with several businesses under that enterprise. The Getaway Bar and Grill has been in operation for over 3 years. Turner Red Carpet Events was established in 2015. Wheel Wash It, a mobile detailing car wash and pressure washing service was established in June of 2016.
Mr. Albert Turner belongs to various community groups. He has been doing back to school drives since 2013. Every year since 2014 he hosted a community event for Christmas, Hoops for Toys. All of the toys are donated to Stacey Lewis, the Recreational Coordinator on Gulf street. This is an area where some of the children do not experience Christmas as they should. He also hosts a Father/Daughter Dance, which allows the fathers in the community to lead by example and show their daughters the proper way to be treated. Mr. Turner has also hosted events at Tekoa Academy, facilitated the NAACP Banquet and partnered with Antioch Baptist Church. This year he organized the First Annual Black Heritage Festival in Southeast Texas. The event was a two-day event entitled, Unpacking Your Past, and was free to the public. There as a Black Heritage Apollo, Black Heritage Youth Step Show, Black Heritage Youth Trivia Bowl, special guest celebrity speakers and a concert by 10 time Grammy Award winner, Kirk Franklin.
Mr. Turner is the founder of a mentoring program entitled SLAM (Supportive Leaders Administering Motivation). His team coaches and mentors the youth in the community. He has been coaching kids since 2009 in AAU Basketball, which is a summer program that allows student athletes to travel the world and get exposure with college coaches and get athletic scholarships. The kids travel as far as Florida and Las Vegas. The money for the children to take the trips are all donated through fundraisers. In September 2016, he launched his own clothing line, Lukin Yan Couture. Mr. Turner was elected to Southeast Texas 40 under 40 in 2016 as well. He is a Christian man that loves the community and loves to see people grow and flourish.
Q. You recently decided to leave your full-time job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. What was the driving force behind your decision?
A. The driving force behind my decision to leave my full-time job was the moment I felt that I was being limited. After praying and recognizing my full potential, I had to rely on my faith to take me to the higher heights that I dreamed of.
Q. At such a young age, you are very involved in the community. Why do you think community outreach is so important?
A. Community outreach is vital for our youth due to the fact that they are very impressionable. I can relate to the kids and have established strong bonds with them to guide them in the right direction and to encourage them to be all that they can be. Direct involvement in the community with our youth is important in raising future leaders. I am a firm believer of actions speaking louder than words, so my driving force in every community event is my actions doing the talking.
Q. With a school age daughter and having achieved a higher degree yourself, what is your philosophy on education?
A. My philosophy on education is that it’s the key to success whether it’s being learned or taught. I am a firm believer of researching things that I am taught for confirmation. I teach my daughter to always achieve in the classroom and never be afraid to ask a question whether big or small.
Q. After working in the Criminal Justice field, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a young man that is headed down the path of potential incarceration?
A. It is never too late to change, meaning whether you have made one mistake or several mistakes those mistakes are in your past. Often you hear your past will hunt you, but I believe your past should motivate you to have a better future. Stop focusing on what happened and shift your focus to what’s ahead. Just because you are reminded of your past it does not mean you have to stay there.
Q. If you could be Mayor for one year what are some changes you would like to make and why?
A. If I could be Mayor for one year I would definitely promote positive change, unity, growth, and reform. I believe in short term limits. I feel the older leaders should mentor and motivate younger leaders and pass the torch. I would create visions for the people of Jefferson County not for my personal use or gains. I would create more opportunity, jobs, and attractions to grow Jefferson County. This will assist with keeping our children in our community and not moving to other cities due to lack of opportunity. I would be a lot more involved with the community. My focus wouldn’t just be on politics of the community, but I would work directly with the School Board for our youth which is the future of our community. As Mayor, I would stress solutions and not complaints. As Mayor, I would focus on creating safer neighborhoods and reduce the crime rate. I would make it mandatory that all council members respect one another and talk to their council members with respect. I would instill in my council that we will work as a team, even if we do not agree on everything and the majority vote will rule.
Q. In a small town, it can sometimes be hard to get the support that you need to accomplish your goals. How do you deal with setbacks within your business?
A. In a small town it is extremely hard to survive as a entrepreneur when dealing with adversity and setbacks. You must have Faith. I am a firm believer that God will never put more on you than you can handle. Often you hear people complain about what the community lacks but you watch the same people not support what the community has and its attempts to grow. I lead by example, offering the knowledge I have gained to the next person and I’m always looking to reach down and pull the next man or woman up.
Q. What are some suggestions you have for bridging the gap between the different ethnic groups within the community?
A. Bridging the gap between the ethnic groups in the community is simply eliminating color and holding people accountable when they are wrong. When it comes to the color of your skin, we all bleed red blood. Every ethnicity has good and bad people. Who you choose to associate with may be the reason you are not where you may want to be. Support the most qualified candidates in local elections as well as the right leaders in the communities.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success?
A. I owe my success to GOD! The man upstairs is responsible for blessing me with my beautiful wife, Ashley Turner, and daughters Addisyn and Ashlynn, who share me with so many people. Also, my parents Albert Sr. and Darlene Turner, who I feel are the best parents in the world. I have a loving, caring, and supportive family. I can look out in the audience and always see them no matter what I may be involved in. God has blessed me to build relationships with the right people and I can’t thank him enough for weeding out the wrong people.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?
A. Pray about it. Receive your confirmation and jump and never look back! You do not want to come to the end your life wondering what you could have become. Take advantage of the moment and become what you’re destined to be and if it does not work, do not believe it wasn’t meant to be. Believe in yourself and try harder. Take ownership, do not blame others. Do not talk about it be about it! My favorite saying!! I look at actions, I do not care to listen to the words.
Q. If you could be doing anything else in the world what would it be and why?
A. If I could be anything in the world, I would choose to be a billionaire on the Forbes List. I would like to help others reach the highest level of success in life that they could reach. I would travel the world and help people grow. Often people listen to people who are where they want to be.
Mr. Anthony P. Jones was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. He graduated from Central High School in 1991. After high school he worked in many different fields before finding the current career that he is in. He began working for Burkes Valve in 1995 as a GGC Tech. In 1996, the company name changed to Carter Chambers and he was promoted to SRV Tech. With hard work and dedication, in 1998 he was promoted to Shop Supervisor. The company name changed again in 2011 to DMC Carter Chambers and Mr. Jones was promoted to Production Manager. In 2015, the company name was changed again to Setpoint Integrated Solutions where he is currently Production Manager over the SRV Department. In 2005 Mr. Jones decided to further his education in order to grow in his field. It was challenging to work full-time, over-time, nights and weekends as well as take college classes but in 2008 Mr. Jones received an Associates Degree in Industrial Maintenance. He lives in Beaumont, Texas and is skilled and educated in the plumbing, electrical and mechanical fields. He is always willing to give back to the community and help others.
Q. Who or what inspired you to enter the Petrochemical Field?
A. I prayed for a job with the ability to grow and God blessed me with it. I have been growing financially ever since. It just so happens that it was in this field and I found a love for it. I continue to get the training and skills that is needed to be successful at it because I love what I do.
Q. As a Black man in an authoritative position do you find that supervisors of other races tend to discredit you simply because of your race? If so, how do you deal with it?
A. Yes it happens. I deal with it by praying because I know that at the end of the day God controls everything.
He sees all, He knows all, and He has my back.
Q. How do you deal with the stress of supervising other young men?
A. It has it’s challenges. I stay prayed up and I keep it professional. I take time as needed to take care of myself.
Q. Have you ever had to fire someone even though you knew that they needed their job?
A. Yes I have, but my motto is and always have been in over 15 years in a leadership position, that I have not ever fired anyone that wasn’t given ample enough time to correct the issue or problem. Therefore, my conscience was clear and they terminated themselves. Meaning, I don’t fire anyone they fire themselves. There are rules and regulations to go by and if you consistently break them then it is no one’s fault but your own.
Q. What was the driving force behind your decision to go back to school and obtain a degree in your field?
A. My initial reason was to branch out into the Petrochemical field and hold a job as a Maintenance Tech. After I received my degree I was promoted from a supervisor to a Production Manager and decided to further my career in the Industrial Maintenance field.
Q. The southeast Texas area is one of the largest areas for refineries. However, many people struggle to find work in this area. As a supervisor what are some of the reasons why you couldn’t hire a person?
A. There are several reasons why. Some of the most common reasons are not having a valid Texas drivers license, past employment history, experience, answers to interview questions and attitude.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter into the Petrochemical field?
A. It depends on where they are at in life. If they are still in high school I would advise him or her to maintain the highest GPA possible. The higher your GPA is in college means the less classes you may have to take. There will also be more opportunities available to you. If they are not in high school we don’t really look at GPA, just have a positive attitude and make sure that what you are seeking is what you really want to do and apply yourself to make a career out of it.
Q. You were born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. What are some improvements that you would like to see in the area?
A. The improvements I would like to see for the most part is being done already and that is the work on the roads and bridges. I would like to see an adjustment on taxes, a better educational program and more places to spend a quiet evening with your kids or significant other.
Q. If you could say anything to your 16 year old self what would it be and why?
A. If I could say something to my 16 year old self it would be to start learning all that you can, work hard, find something that you love and stick with it, stay focused and achieve your goals.
Q. Why do you think mentoring young men is so important in the Black community?
A. A lot of our young Black men have followed the footsteps of their brothers, uncles, dads and in some cases their grandfather. All that they have come to know is that lifestyle. They feel like that is their lifestyle. Being a successful, positive Black man you can mentor these young men to let them see that there is another way out instead of the lifestyle that they grew up knowing. They don’t have to be like what they have seen in their family or community. They can choose a path of success on their own with a little encouragement, love and support and be successful.
“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them…”(Ezekiel 34:23)
Pastor Torey D. Doucette, Sr. is the anointed visionary leader whom God called to lead the New Birth Community Baptist Church of Beaumont, Texas. As a young boy he developed a love and sense of compassion for others as he took on the responsibility of caring for his grandparents. He exemplified a spirit of devotion and care for the needs of others more than his own. Although he is best known for his gift of preaching, his ministry began in music. At the early age of 4 he was singing, playing the guitar and drums alongside his grandfather with the Amazing Spiritual Five. This quickly distinguished him as a talented musician.
Pastor Doucette accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior at the age of 10. During these years, up to his teens, he served as the drummer for the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor James Boswell. In 1997, he moved his membership to the Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church under the direction of Pastor Delbert A. Mack, Sr. where he was given a position as one of the lead guitar players. Serving there for over a year, as well as signing with his own Gospel group, The Young Spiritual Five that God led him to organize at the age of 16, he soon realized that the music ministry was not a substitute for the calling upon his life.
Pastor Doucette accepted his call to preach the Gospel in June 1998 at the early age of 21 and ministered his first sermon in August of 1998 at Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church, where he was ordained by Pastor Delbert Mack, Sr. He received a plaque for being the youngest minister in the area and was recognized in the Beaumont Enterprise. He continued to work for the Lord at Cathedral of Faith. However, in the fall of 1998 he was called to Pastor his first church, New Hope Baptist Church of Beaumont, Texas. From there, he has led a number of ministries as well as devoting himself to the betterment of man through the spiritual and educational process. After continuous prayer and supplication, God led Pastor Doucette to resign from New Hope after two years of service. He allowed God to the place him under the leadership of Pastor John R. Adolph at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church from 2000 to 2007, where he served on several ministries and organizations.
As he continued his ministry in music, God spoke to his heart and blessed him to begin a new chapter in his life. God led him to organize the New Birth Community Baptist Church in April of 2007, with 5 core members. Pastor Doucette has been delivering the preached Word for a total of 18 years and remains focused on ministry, growth and outreach. He is the owner and influences several small businesses and he has traveled the world singing and proclaiming the Word of God as a National Recording Artist with his group, The Young Spiritual 5ive.
Pastor Doucette is the oldest of 7 siblings, and his parents, Joseph and Brenda Doucette are faithful and proud members of the New Birth Family. He and his lovely wife, Rannie Doucette, were joined in holy matrimony on September 18, 2004. In this union they have four handsome sons: DeSoun, Keith, Torey Jr. and Ja’Torian.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. I saw my grandfather and others in business as a little boy. The older I got, I loved to see Anglo-American father and sons in business and how successful they were. That vision kept me focused. It inspired me to be an entrepreneur to not only have an inheritance for my children, but for my children’s children. Growing up working with my grandparents and working on jobs where I was fortunate enough to work right on side of the owner are milestones that helped me to be the entrepreneur that I am today.
Q. Why do you think entrepreneurship is so important to the African American community?
A. It is very important to the African-American community because we were always owners of something. We were the creators of almost everything. These days, we have lost our touch for creating things. We have gotten away from wanting to be the owners, we just want to be the workers. I think it is very important that African-Americans become entrepreneurs, but we must remember that everybody is not a leader. Everybody can’t run a business. However, there are those that can own businesses it and it is very important for them to step out so that we can have more leaders in our community.
Q. You are a National Recording Artist and have sung with some of the greatest in Gospel music. What advice would you give to a Black man that is trying to make it in the industry?
A. The best advice that I would give is to be humble and wait your time. Time is very important. Sometimes you can move before time and if you move before time you can miss out on what God has for you. Waiting for your time does not mean that you are just sitting down waiting for it to happen. It means working while you are waiting. Prepare yourself for the stage. Start operating as if you are going on stage. Operate like you are going on a show. If you don’t have any shows or events operate as though you do. Plan rehearsals and sing as if you do have performances.
Q. You are coming up on ten years as Pastor of New Birth Baptist Church. Many know that being a Pastor isn't easy. How do you deal with the stress?
A. Being a Pastor is not easy. Being an entrepreneur in business is not easy. Being a father and husband is not easy. Collaborating all of that at one time is not easy! I reduce the stress by first praying to God. I have meditation time with God. And I know how to separate things in my life. Everything that I do is a full-time job. However, in being a Pastor, you don’t do that all day. With sales, you don’t do that all day. In being a father and a husband, everybody goes their separate ways during the day, but when the family comes together, you don’t do it all day. I’ve learned how to structure my time and use my time wisely so that I can tend to things as I need to. I also make what I do fun. A gentleman asked me one day what do I do for fun. I said I like to make money (lol). Most importantly, I like to give God the praise more than anything! Giving God the praise is #1. Making money is #2. But right under God, which doesn’t even call for a number, is being a part of my family. Making everything that I do fun is my way to reduce stress.
Q. To who or what do you owe your success.
A. First and foremost, God! My father and my mother. My grandparents. My grandfather who kept me focused on being a musician. My wife and my family. I owe my success to everyone that is around me. Also, those who are fans of the group and support us.
Q. The Black man has always had to struggle. What advice do you have for breaking the chains of poverty?
A. It is time to unify. What got us through a lot of struggles is unity our community. I believe that we are not a threat if we are not unified. When we become unified then we become a threat to those that do not want to see us unified. That’s not meant towards any specific group. There are some African-Americans that do not want to see certain people unified because they want to be the Kings of the field or the Chief of the pack. We don’t just struggle with others that are not a part of our ethnic group but with people that are in our ethnic. I believe that what will be the strength of the African-American man and entrepreneurs in general, is unity. I just had a meeting with a large network that wants me to be a part of what they are doing. I told them though, that everything does not have a price tag. Sometimes, you can do things for free, for charity. We were always taught not to forget where you come from. That is key! Don’t forget who helped you to get where you are. Also, as a Pastor, I must say you reap what you sow. I have stated in sermons in the past that sometimes you don’t always reap where you sow. It is very important that we understand the concept of what strengthens us. That is why history is so important. What has strengthened us and kept us in the past is powerful to keep us not only in the present, but even in the future.
Q. Knowledge is power and the Black man has statistically failed in education. What is your philosophy on education?
A. Education is very important. What has hindered us is the lack of knowledge. There was a time where the African-American man would go to prison and some of them would go unjustly. When they would get out of prison they would start where they left off. In most cases with a business. A lot of times these men were sent to prison for no other reason except the fact that they had a good business and they were beating the Anglo businesses and taking them out of business. This is what happened in Oklahoma with Black Wall Street. They got upset because Black Wall Street was flourishing and doing better than Anglo Americans. So, they started attacking us and began to incarcerate us at young ages. That process hindered us from getting the education that we always prayed and died for. They also saw the trend that if they sent us to jail we could come out resilient and successful. That became their way of training us. Education is very important. We must begin to educate kids when they are babies and teach them that life outside of the church, not having education, and being out in the world is not the way to go. Also, education is not always being in the classroom. It also includes being in the company of those who have reached the goals that you are trying to reach. Experience can be stronger than you reading in a book. You can be an educated fool! We were always taught hands-on. In the history of the United States we had lawyers that were as young as 13 years old. They didn’t learn just in a classroom. They had someone to teach them. I like the old saying that is used for our Historically Black Colleges, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I think education is very important because you can miss out on so many opportunities.
Q. One of the main reasons why the Black community suffers is because many refuse to work together. Do you have any suggestions for improving relationships among the black community?
A. We must lay aside our differences. We must understand that everyone doesn’t think alike. We must also remember that everybody is not a leader. One of the things that has hurt the African-American community is the thought that everybody is a leader. Everybody is not a leader. Working together is knowing that just because someone says that you can cook well does not mean that you should start a restaurant. It may mean that you can work with the owner of the restaurant. We must learn that it is okay to not be the business owner but to work with the business owner. Perhaps a family member or friend can be the business owner and you can cook in the kitchen or the two of you can be partners in the business. We must understand that we can be partners and work together. The problem we face is too many people wanting to do it all alone. A person aspiring to start a business must understand that sometimes you can’t do the whole business by yourself. We must work together! A cake is not a cake unless you have all the ingredients. You can have the best rims in the world but if they are not on the right car then they are worthless. In everything, you must have all the right components. The key in the African-American community is to remember what we have done when it was slavery and segregation, etc., which was working together for common goals. I think it is very important that we remember in the African-American community that to meet needs for common goals we must work together. We are stronger together than we are apart!
Q. What advice do you have for a young Black man that is seeking to become an entrepreneur?
A. Study your craft. Learn your craft. If you want to be an entrepreneur it is not hard. Being an entrepreneur is not just an Internet entrepreneur. They are people who have studied the craft and became entrepreneurs. My theory on entrepreneurship is not multi-level marketing. An entrepreneur to me is a person that put a company together to create jobs. There was a saying at Morehouse, “I hope that you are not coming here to work for a big company. I hope that you are coming here to learn how to create a company and create jobs.” It is very important that a person that is aspiring to become an entrepreneur study their craft. You must understand that there are some things that you can’t learn through experience. You must learn some things in a classroom. Just because some people did not go to school for their craft does not mean that you don’t need to go. Some people need to go to school to understand what they are trying to do. You also need some people on side of you that will support you.
Q. What is your favorite motivational quote? Why?
A. “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” There is nothing impossible if you have God with you. There have been a lot of things that I tried to do in my life. In the process of my struggles, I realized that I was doing it in me. When I discovered that I must do it in God, it changed my life! I pray because I have seen God do things for me when I trusted HIM for it. This is what I live by and what I share with others. You can do all things through Christ that strengthens you!
Leon Haynes Jr. was born in Houston, Texas but moved to Beaumont as a young boy. He attended BISD schools and graduated from West Brook High School in 1998. He attended Lamar Institute of Technology of Beaumont majoring in Accounting. Mr. Haynes has been happily married for 14 years with 4 biological children and a son by marriage. He began his insurance sales career in 2003. His hobbies include fishing, boxing, and quality time with family.
A slogan that his family and friends often hear him chant is, “God 1st, family, then business.” Business, of course, pertains to what’s applicable at the time, whether it’s extracurricular activities or college exams.
Q. Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
A. My father aspired to own his own hardware store when I was a child. I saw him work tirelessly, but his dreams never came to pass. Being his junior, I vowed to someday own and operate a business with our name on it.
Q. Why did you decide to enter the Insurance profession?
A. Insurance sort of found me. I was working in Law Enforcement as a Correctional Officer and wanted to change careers. A friend of my mother recruited me and introduced me to Debit Insurance in 2003. I quickly excelled, becoming a leading staff manager and found the helping of others in their time of need rewarding.
Q. In the Black community, often people die without having life insurance. What suggestion do you have for increasing life insurance coverage in the Black community?
A. Our Black community must be mindful of the importance of life insurance. The sad truth is, we rarely have the same generational wealth and resources as others. However, life insurance can subsidize that for our heirs. We can leave an inheritance for generations to come with various forms of life insurance.
Q. Healthcare is one of the most talked about topics right now. What suggestions do you have for people who cannot afford health insurance and those who may be losing their coverage under Obamacare?
A. Healthcare is a controversial topic in our nation today. My suggestion for working class citizens is to seek employment from employers with benefits. When it comes to health insurance, you will reap the reward of group rates as well as possible other perks such as 401K retirement and pension plans.
Q. Why do you think entrepreneurship is so important?
A. I believe we must have individuals to make the sacrifice of becoming entrepreneurs. It is the American dream. If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!
Q. What are some suggestions you have for improving the success of our young Black men in our community?
A. As young Black men, we must first understand the unique obstacles we face. We must adjust and adapt. This at times, means working smarter and harder than others.
Q. As a business owner in the Southeast Texas area what improvements would you like to see in the area and what are some suggestions for achieving those improvements?
A. I would like to see Southeast Texans support our own. We spend too much of our resources and revenue away from home.
Q. The man is the head of the household. However, the Black man is missing in a lot of homes in our community. What advice do you have to encourage Black men to be what they were called to be?
A. Generations of our people have been raised without a father. This doesn’t mean we did not have father figures. It takes a village to raise a child. Black men must love and advise our youth, or our future will be negatively impacted.
Q. What is the one single piece of advice that you would give to a 16-year old young man right now? Why?
A. Don’t believe the stereotypes about you. Life is what you make it. Keep God first and commit to hard work and dedication to a craft. The sky is the limit! Never sell yourself short and never settle for less.
“The Best Way To Predict The Future, Is To Create It…”
Christopher L. Bates was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas. At thirty-one years of age, Bates is the oldest of six siblings. Bates attended PAISD schools and graduated from Memorial High School in 2003, the schools first graduating class. He then went on to obtain his Law Enforcement Certification from Lamar Institute of Technology and a Bachelors Degree from Lamar University, both in 2008. In May 2012, Bates won the Democratic Primary by 51% in a four person race, avoiding a run off election. Mr. Bates was sworn in as Jefferson County Constable Precinct 2 in January 2013 at the age of 27,making him the youngest elected official in the history of Jefferson County. Bates was the youngest Constable out of 770 in the State of Texas. He is the second youngest Constable in Texas history and the first African-American Constable ever elected in his precinct. Bates has been blessed to receive several honors, including the Southeast Texas MLK Support Group Man of the Year Honor, the Port Arthur News Best Politician and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and The Southeast Texas Prestigious 40 Under 40 Honor. In February 2017, Mr. Bates was recognized as one of the Top 50 Professionals and Entrepreneurs for D-Mars.com of the Greater Houston Area. He also introduced the first Constable Criminal Justice Scholarship awarding a Port Arthur High School Senior since 2015. Bates also partnered with the Department of Transportation to adopt a 2-mile stretch of highway in the city of Port Arthur. Since 2015 Bates has held the “Annual Christmas with the Constable Toy Drive,” benefiting the Salvation Army.
Mr. Bates has been the Minister of Music at New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Beaumont since 2005 where he directs all choirs and plays the organ. He has been a member of the Gospel recording singing group, The Young Men ~N~ Christ, since 2002. Mr. Bates is the current Sgt. At Arms for the Port Arthur NAACP. He is also a proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated where he holds the position of President for the Gamma Tau Lambda Chapter here in the Golden Triangle. Bates is currently attending Texas Southern University, set to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in May 2017. He is the proud father of two beautiful daughters.
Q. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in Law Enforcement?
A. I was never one of the kids growing up that wanted to be a Police Officer. I actually always wanted to be a teacher. I decided to take the police test one day with two of my friends just because they were, and I passed. That was almost nine years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. It was an ABSOLUTE blessing from God!
Q. You are the youngest Constable in the State of Texas. Do you feel as though that title adds extra stress to your position? How did you feel when you first found out that you were the youngest Constable in the State of Texas?
A. My first term, which was from 2013 to 2016, I was the youngest Constable in the State of Texas. This last election cycle, a 28-year-old male from Longview became the youngest Constable in the state. He and I are good friends. I am currently the second youngest Constable in the state at 31 years old. While I was the youngest Constable it was inspiring and non-stressful. I used that recognition to encourage other young people looking to get into government positions. When I first found out I was the current youngest Constable in Texas, I had the great feeling of humility and drive to motivate other young people to reach their goals and never give up!
Q. Do you feel as though Black men have a harder time becoming successful than their counterparts?
A. I believe that in order to be successful, a person should work hard regardless of their race. I have never made being a Black man an excuse for not succeeding. I have just always made up my mind to “out-work” the next person.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in entering the Law Enforcement field?
A. I would tell a person interested in Law Enforcement to make sure that they really want to help people, make a difference in a person’s life and be diverse.
Q. You have spent time in the school’s providing security and you are in the process of obtaining a Master’s Degree. What is your philosophy on improving the state of our school’s and the importance of higher education?
A. Improving the public-school system should be at the top of our list. I’m not saying that things are horrible, but what I am saying is that there is always room for improvement. Being consistent with our education system is going to be the key to success. Once we are more consistent in the public school system, then we will have more students to enter into higher education, which I believe is very important.
Q. What suggestions do you have for improving the relationships between Law Enforcement Agencies and the community?
A. I would suggest that Law Enforcement Agencies continue to be as transparent as possible. When communities don’t know about certain issues that arise in the community they feel Law Enforcement is hiding something. Having the community engaged in “community oriented policing” will help to bridge the gap between Law Enforcement and the community.
Q. You are very active in the community? What is the biggest problem you think the community is facing?
A. I believe the highest problem facing the community is that a lot of people have given up hope to see things be successful. In some regards, we have more people complaining than we have creating solutions. I’m not telling people to do everything I do as far as community service, but what I am saying is to do something that you are passionate about, and watch the change come.
Q. Why do you think Entrepreneurship is important?
A. Entrepreneurship is important because it produces a different type of business person within the business world. Entrepreneurs motivate and inspire other people that are looking to be their own boss.
Q. If you could tell your 16-year old self one thing what would it be? Why?
A. The one thing I would tell my 16-year old self would be to listen, listen, listen, and then APPLY! I believe that if I would have listened more and applied the advice to my life, then I would have been able to achieve things a lot quicker and greater.
Q. Where would you like to see the city of Port Arthur in the next five years?
A. I would like to see more young leaders step up and take control of some of these leadership positions within the city. Young leadership will grow the city faster and provide a fresh breath of life into the community.