By Jihad Hassan Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner –
At a glance, people may look at Steve Harvey and his accomplishments and possibly only see him as an entertainer. On television, he is the host of one of the longest airing game shows of all time, Family Feud and also The Steve Harvey Project. On the radio, his syndicated show, The Steve Harvey Morning Show, reaches millions of listeners daily. On the road, he recently started a comedy and gospel tour with local Grammy award winning gospel artist, Kirk Franklin. He is also a best-selling author and comedy icon.
What do his accomplishments mean to the average young man hanging on the streets, growing up without a father figure or a single mother to help her son become a man? Well, as statistics point out, close to 70 percent of African American children live in single parent homes.
His accomplishments have great meaning to hundreds of young men and their mothers whose lives he touches each summer. Harvey uses what he has learned and gained throughout his lifetime to give back to the community. Each summer, he takes time out of his schedule to mentor young men from across the country, which he brings to his private ranch located in the Dallas area.
For the past three years, Harvey has opened up his 120 acre ranch to more than 100 young men during the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend, a four-day/three-night program that aims to teach the principles of manhood, how they can be better emotionally, economically and overall.
“Steve Harvey is doing a lot of great things by reaching out to those who are less fortunate, and any time you are doing something like that we have an obligation to reach and help out in any way you possibly can. So anytime they call me out here to speak on those issues – to be a part of this – I feel obligated, I can’t turn that down,” Stephen A. Smith, ESPN sports anchor, said. Smith was one of many famous and influential people who came to help mentor the youth.
Other mentors included: Academy award winning actor, Denzel Washington; Jermaine Dupri, hip-hop icon and multi-platinum producer; Terrance J of BET’s 106 and Park; Will Packer, movie producer, who has brought to the world such films as This Christmas, Stomp The Yard, Obsession and Takers; Myles Kovacs, founder of DUB Magazine and self-made millionaire and many more.
“I just flew in from L.A. where I’m in pre-production on my new movie I’m doing based on Steve Harvey’s book, called ‘Think Like a Man,’ he [Harvey] called me and told me about the program and I said there is no way I can’t be involved. I have to be involved,” Packer said.
Upon arrival, the young men had the opportunity to receive a free haircut and image consulting before sitting down to a Texas steak dinner with welcome from Harvey. During their stay, they participated in early morning boot camp style exercises, fishing, football, basketball, and paintball.
There were a number of workshops that cultivated the principles of manhood and self-determination, such as: You Can Be Me Panel Session; Looking Good and Feeling Healthy; Conversations with Jermaine Dupri; Life Opportunities (Discipline & Motivation); Teen Distracted Driving and a Music 101 and Do-It-Yourself.
Harvey chose Black leaders from across the country, such as, Dr. Steve Perry, CNN contributor and principal/founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School; D’Wayne Edwards, of PENSOLE School of Footwear Design; Dr. Albert Cheek, Alex O. Ellis, of Tied to Greatness; Kevin Folkes of SoftSheen-Carson; motivational coach Jonathan Sprinkles; CSM Hershel Turner, of the U.S. Army; Lt. Tommy Elkins of the National Guard; Carlos Treadway, of Ford Motor Company; Benjamin Raymond, of State Farm; KRNB Radio’s Benny Pough and Azim Rashid; Enoch Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam; and Marvin Ellison, from Home Depot.
One youth expressed that his best learning experience was through the Hip-Hop Detox Workshop.
“It expressed to us how not to conform to today’s society, and how to overcome the negative things, said Nicholas Young, a 15-year-old from Waldorf, Maryland.
During the sessions, the youth were coached on behaviors and work ethics needed to fulfill their visions. Many heard personal stories of struggle and triumph from the mentors.
“I was told I wasn’t good enough. People my whole life have told me, I was too small, too skinny, not smart enough, and eventually I interned at BET for over a year and a half, just learning everything, then one day after living on the floor, struggling, not paying rent, I got the biggest job on the network hosting 106 and Park … So never let anybody tell you that you can’t live out your dream,” Terrance J told them.
For a young man, Hakim Elam, a teenager from Los Angeles, California, this was an experience extremely special to him.
“I’m in a situation where I can’t walk right now and being around these other kids my age and even some whose experience is worse than mine right now, I have learned from this, and will always embrace everything taught to me this weekend,” he stated.
Mentors expressed that the weekend was a very important and positive experience to them, as well as to the youth.
“Just growing up being raised by a single parent, by my mom …” Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith said, pointing out the similarities between him and the youth. “A lot of these young guys don’t have a father, so what Steve is doing is giving them an experience to last a lifetime.”
Harvey recently received the Humanitarian Award during the BET Awards. That portion will highlight moments of his life, from 1957 – when he was still known as Broderick Steven Harvey – to present.