MIAMI –When Congressman John Lewis stood to take photos with guests after the When Generations Meet forum on Friday, April 22 at Broward College, South Campus Theater, Broward College student, Regi Gillis mumbled “I love him,” under her breath. “He is a living legend and I can’t believe he is here.”
Congressman Lewis made his presence known and charged attendees to action. “We have to get involved. Dr. King inspired me to get in good trouble – necessary trouble. you want to change things then you have to disturb the order of things and be prepared to pay the price.” Leaders by Empowerment-Activists by Development (L.E.A.D. Nation), in partnership with the Knight Foundation, presented the 4th Annual South Florida Youth Summit from April 22 – 24. This year, L.E.A.D. Nation, Inc. celebrated 10 years of service to youth and families and culminated the event by paying homage to its founders and leaders in the South Florida community.
Congressman Lewis was joined on Friday night by Tracy Wilson Mourning, the Founder of Honey Shine, Inc., a mentoring program for young girls. Mourning implored one student with solutions to today’s ills to continue to, “speak about it. Talk about it to friends. Talk about it to others. When you start having these conversations, you realize we are more alike than we are different and that you may be able to help someone else.”
Mentor specialist Shawn Blanchard encouraged youth to use social media to get the idea out. “Social media is kind of like a microphone but it feels like your microphone is off. You can’t stop at no. So it’s a matter of sending it to a news reporter. Send it to someone whose microphone is on and continue to talk about it.” Other panelists included executive director of the Dream Defenders Umi Selah and community activist Tangela Sears, who also provided insight to the guests. The encouragement continued on Saturday, when 500 South Florida students gathered for that day’s session. The students broke out into sessions on STEM programs, college, and financial aid. Youth Motivational Speaker, Jarrod Uddin, gave a riveting testimony of choice: to either follow the course given or to walk in faith. According to Uddin, the choice was simple; he needed to just show up.
His decision to walk in faith changed the trajectory of his life.
“One life changing opportunity comes along every single day…to do something about your dreams. To do something about your purpose – your passion…whatever is inside of you.” Uddin closed by challenging the youth to have the courage to do something about their life and to take a chance.
The weekend of events closed with the Founders Luncheon presented by the City of Miramar shining a spotlight on L.E.A.D. Nation founders – Representative Shevrin Jones, Leo Stoney, and Donald Garner. Representative Jones explained his motivation for starting L.E.A.D. Nation. “I knew for a fact that we could change the narrative of this next generation. We had to move the agenda for the youth.”
The luncheon ended on a high with social architect and award winning journalist Jeff Johnson giving a poignant message to youth and adults. For adults, Johnson charged them to build “an infrastructure (for youth) that prepares them to be so strong that they can look anybody in the face with a level of respect and be clear about who they are, their identity, their vision, their goals, their desires. Because if not, all you are doing is building an infrastructure that gets funding to create slaves. What will you engineer?”
Johnson closed out his hour long message by inviting parents, mentors and community leaders to take a more deliberate approach with preparing their children for the future.
“Discipleship is when those of us who are walking down a path express wisdom based on our own walk and…feed this wisdom into young people to help them with their walk. Disciple our children step by step into the place where they have been called to, especially when it means us getting out of the way. Pour wisdom into them.”