Black History Month Spotlight: VP, Kings Academy & Professional Development Galen Duncan

In honor of Black History Month, the Kings organization is highlighting members of the team who have made an impact in their field while also representing their African American heritage.

How would you describe your role with the Sacramento Kings?

I would describe my role as an honor and a privilege. I get to spend every day impacting the lives of young men who come from many different races, backgrounds and creeds. I can provide tangible life experience combine with skills learned in school to hopefully help them along their journey.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The coolest thing about my job is that no day is ever the same. I wake up knowing that my days will be filled with positive energy (even when times are tough). I get to know these young men in a way that most will not. I know their families, their secrets and their shortcomings. Essentially, I get to help enhance the life of people who enhance the lives of others.

Who have been your biggest role models?

My parents (George and Carol Duncan) hands down are my role models. My father passed when I was a young man (19 years of age). In the short period time he taught me how to be a man. He taught me how earn and give respect to those who deserve it. He also taught me to stand up for what’s right in all situations. My mother who is now 85 years old taught me patience, love and resilience. She is unbelievable but humble as they come. If you know me then you will know my feelings about Muhammed Ali. He is the greatest for many reasons however, his brashness and unwillingness to settle for social injustice has been a major contributor to my self-esteem and personal development. Plus, you have to love someone who isn’t afraid to tell you what they are going to do and follow through with it. My modern day role model is Dr. Harry Edwards. He is everything that I hoped to be in academia and sport. He is the social presence that I have dreamed of one day being. I will always follow his lead in the fight for social justice.

How would you define Black culture, and why it’s important to celebrate?

Black culture is the “world’s culture” now. It is undeniable. The music, art, clothes is the swagger that we created is what everyone wants to be associated with daily. Everyone copies black culture. Well I say this…Don’t emulate us if you don’t respect us. If you respect us then celebrate us as we celebrate other cultures. Don’t give us a month or some days and think that its ok. Our forefathers built this country with brick and mortar. We have carried this country on our backs (at times unwillingly). Don’t tell me we should be happy and lucky to live in this country. Tell me how happy and lucky this country is to have us here.

What advice would you give to fellow African Americans who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

Keep grinding! This isn’t an easy profession for anyone to get into (or stay in). The unfortunate reality is that you will be passed over for promotions. You will be over worked and underpaid. You will likely not be appreciated for what you do on a daily basis. However, you are necessary. It is important for children (especially black children) to see that they can be close to something love without just being a player. It is important for them to see the Maurice Brazelton's, Alvin Gentry's and Eric King's of the world. Black faces in leadership position moving the needle daily.

As we learn from the past and honor the legacy and contributions of Black leaders from history, how can each take action in the present to build a more just, equal, and inclusive future?

We must read more! We must find the information that isn’t being taught in schools or shared on social media. We also must open our hearts to understand that the majority of America has been taught a lie. We must have grace and patience with people who are only saying and doing what they have been taught in their own personal world. We must not succumb to the evil of racism, sexism, colorism or any other ism that isn’t moving the world in the right direction. Start with love and it will end with respect.

Why is it important to continue to encourage diversity in the workplace?

Diversity is not just about race. Gender, religion and sexual preference are areas in need of addressing on daily basis. Smart people come from all different backgrounds and viewpoints. We all view the world through a different lens. Because of this, we must have all parties at the table. With everyone at the table we have an opportunity to move the needle across a greater divide. Imagine the best ideas and thoughts from every race, gender and thought process in one room making things right for each other? This is my dream!