Thursday, July 2, 2009
King of Comedy Steve Harvey hosts mentoring weekend for young men in Little Elm
The event was held over Father’s Day weekend at Harvey’s sprawling 140-acre ranch, off Lake Lewisville in Little Elm.
Known for his bravado and sharp dress on film and television and his off-color sass and half-crazed humor on stage, comedian, actor and book author Steve Harvey demonstrated a whole different side of himself this past weekend, much to the delight of 100 wide-eyed teenage boys and dozens of historic Blacks in the aviation field.
The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men was held over Father’s Day weekend at Harvey’s sprawling 140-acre ranch, off Lake Lewisville in Little Elm.
Much-needed guidance and direction was given to 100 disadvantaged African American young men, from 13-18 years old, flown in from around the country. Guest celebrities helped hold life-skill seminars and workshops that uplifted and educated the young men, while giving them critical life experiences. Many of them went fishing for the first time in their young lives on the ranch.
“If we create better men, we could fix a lot of things in our community. The problem in our community is not the women, it’s the men. We’ve got to get more men to step up and show up,” Harvey said point-blank. “I’ve got four daughters that are not married. I want their selection, their crop of men to pick from, to be a little bit better, so that one of these kids could eventually marry my 12-year old daughter.”
While most of the activities were held at Harvey’s ranch, a main highlight, however, was held at Dallas Executive Airport in Oak Cliff, where the C.R.P. Future Pilots Flight School is located. In an event sponsored by American Airlines, the youth were introduced to the world of aviation, personally meeting original members of the Tuskegee Airmen and 32 of the 158 African American pilots employed with American Airlines. Those 32 pilots made a ceremonious landing at the airport, greeted by Harvey and the teenagers.
“The reason why we’re here today is to show you how the power of aviation can transform lives,” said Major Alejandro “Brick” House, chief operations officer and co-founder of the C.R.P. Pilots Flight School. “We are here to start shifting the atmosphere for young men and women around the United States and planting a positive seed in your life.
“Whether it’s aviation or something else you might want to do in the future, you can stay on track and fulfill your dreams. If we can give you snapshot of something more positive of what you’re currently in, we might be able to help foster that fire inside of you and keep you on track for your future.”
Harvey concurred, reflecting back on his youth.
“I see the wide-eyed look the unsurely, the not knowing, the wanting to make it and don’t know how to make it,” Harvey said. “I know how it’s like to want to have something but you don’t have anything and you think you’re so far away from it.
“It’s very, very special when you can present that type of imagery to young African American men, to combat some of the other imagery that’s not so positive. Sometimes for a child all they need is a glimpse of what it could be like. They just need a snapshot of what life could be for them. All of these kids can be inspired to be something great.”
The 100 young men, chosen from about 4500 applicants, all are raised in a single-parent family where the mother was the head of the home.
Back at the ranch, on the discovery that some of the boys had acted rudely to some of the female volunteers, Harvey called them into the main tent at his ranch, asked the media to turn off their cameras and conducted a thorough tongue-lashing of the young men. He came down to a milder tone, giving them advice and answering their questions.
“When you are a man and you start thinking only of yourself, you’re not a man,” Harvey told them. “When you have a baby and you’re not taking care of him, you’re not a man.
These are the rules, I didn’t make them up and you aren’t about to change them.
Speaking on associating with the right people, Harvey said: “Everybody that comes with you can’t go with you. When you go back from this mentoring program, some of the cats you’ve been hanging with, you’re going to have some knowledge in your head that they won’t have. When you start sharing it with them, they’re going to think you’re crazy. But you’ve got to stay focused.”
Harvey displayed a spiritual component as well, emphasizing the qualities of Hope and Faith.
“If you don’t pray, you ain’t going to make it. I bet you $10,000 on that. I got $10 million. Let your ass make it without prayer and I’ll give you $10 million. Watch what happens if you start praying, watch what happens if you don’t start praying.”
“We’ve got to stop being lazy. You’ve got to think about your dreams,” said Ronnie Coleman, one of the teens, who aspire to be a music producer. “I’m good with math and numbers. “I’m going to stop being lazy and be more productive.”
Harvey’s highly successful career included being one of the Original Kings of Comedy and star of the Steve Harvey Show, which became the WB Network’s top rated television sitcom from 1996 to 2002, Harvey continues to roll with his morning radio show, broadcast in over 60 markets around the country (105.7 FM in Dallas) and his book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man becoming a New York Times best-seller. Harvey expressed a deep level of humbleness, stating that he has overcome plenty of imperfections.
“I got a lot of dirt on me. You show me something that’s coming up the ground that’s beautiful, that’s any flower, plant, tree or crop, it did have some dirt on it,” Harvey said. “You’re going to have some dirt on you. But guess what man? It’s cool. That means you’re growing.”
In the middle of all the festivities at the airport, Harvey was further moved to a deep emotional moment. He was approached unannounced by the grown son of Juan Hull, Harvey’s former manager and best friend. Hull died of a heart attack in 1998 virtually in Harvey’s arms while riding in a limousine. Harvey gave Hull mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, with unsuccessful results. Hull’s son’s introduction to Harvey at the airport led to a long and tearful embrace.
Knowing that the teens will go back home to the same environments, Harvey stated: “We all got to go back; it ain’t a problem with going back home to the reality that it is. But if you go back with a dream, your dream has nothing to do with where you are, it’s where you’re going.
“The bible says a man without a dream or a vision shall perish. It didn’t say a man that lives in the ‘hood shall perish, or a man who got to go back and face reality shall perish, it said a man without a dream or a vision. We give you a dream, you take that back home and get busy.
“Are all of these kids going to make it? I certainly hope so.”
Harvey also has a mentoring program for incarcerated youths at detention centers, but he said: “It’s better to come to the one at the ranch; it’s a lot more fun.”
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