The protest against racial injustice in the sports world is having a ripple effect in Palm Beach County. A Riviera Beach camp for young men is using this as a teaching opportunity.
The one-week workshop typically focuses on entrepreneurship and leadership. However, this summer COVID-19 and racial justice were also a part of the lesson plan.
It was a moment of celebration.
“It’s a real feel-good moment,” said Marlon Clover, the co-founder of Bridge2Infinity camp.
Teens were dressed in a coat and tie for a graduation ceremony held for the camp Friday.
Riviera Beach council member Douglas Lawson and Clover founded the program more than 20 years ago.
“(Our goal is) to introduce them to successful Black, minority leaders in this community,” Lawson said.
This year the message shifted to include what’s going on outside of these walls.
“I’m seeing as I’m growing up that my life matters, and it’s not really be shown, and it’s not really being taken as seriously as it should be,” said student Kennate Hendrix.
The camp gave the teens a chance to ask the tough questions.
“The chief of police from the city of Riviera Beach, Chief Nate Osgood, came in and he asked him a very specific question: ‘How do you feel about us young Black men being killed?’ And that’s what opened up the conversation,” Lawson said.
Kyle Hansen,14, was able to talk about how it felt seeing his basketball hero fight for racial justice.
“Everybody wants to play like LeBron, beat LeBron. For him to take a stand like that, it’s very encouraging,” Hansen said.
“It’s funny when people tell him to shut up and dribble. You know they act like we are not humans, and we come from different societies than they come from, but it’s our community that is really being impacted,” former NFL player Tony Beckham said.
Beckham said he’s using this as a teaching moment for the young men and women he mentors in the community.
“It’s scary, and it’s sad, and it’s frustrating, but we all have to do it together,” Beckham said.