"One of the most influential Black figures in my life was the mayor of Peekskill, Richard Jackson. He was the first Black mayor in any city in New York State, but growing up, I saw him and that a person of color could be the mayor. It wasn't a big deal, and the way he carried himself, ran the city, supported the community, it was great to see."
"I have so many black figures who have been inspirational to me. First and foremost, I'd have to say my dad [Danny Green Sr.]. He raised me since I was young, and he put the basketball in my hands. He taught me this game, taught me how to drive, taught me everything. He was a single dad at one point, and raised me and my brothers - there's now five of us total - but there was [originally] three of us. He taught me the game, taught me about life, taught me a lot about lessons of life. He was a history teacher himself. I learned about other Black men through him like Martin Luther King, even recently Barack Obama, so many different people that I idolize. A lot of things they went through have always stuck with me, how they operated, how they fought through so many tough times and issues and still stood tall. Learning from [my dad], learning about them, I can't just list or say one name that was one inspiration. They were all inspirational to me, from MLK to Malcolm X to Nelson Mandela to Barack Obama. The list goes on."
"My dad communicated directly. He was a big reader. I think I've heard every saying and verse in the universe because of that. One of his big things was 'finish the race.' He always told me that, 'Finish the race.'
When you're in the middle of the race and you get the lead, that's sometimes the worst place to be because you either look back, or slow down, or want to celebrate, or fall and you have to get up. His whole message was: it doesn't matter if you're leading or behind. Run hard, run through the finish line and finish the race."
"My biggest inspiration was my nana Mrs. Elsie L. Wise. The person I became today was in big part because of her. She was a civil leader in West Philadelphia for 60 plus years. She dedicated herself to making life better for those around her, she was not afraid to take a stand for what she believed in. She founded the West Powelton Steppers and Drum Squad as a way to help the youth in our community. I joined the drumline and even though she was the hardest on me she taught me something that no one could take away from me. She taught me how to love selflessly and unconditionally, and how family is not only blood. She taught me that no matter what change can happen if you stay true to who you are."
- Antoine Mapp
LATIFA WEST X MISTY COPELAND & KAMALA HARRIS
"I have so many people who inspire me, but there are two who stand out. First, the phenomenal Misty Copeland for breaking down barriers in the dance industry and being the first African American woman to receive a principal role in American Ballet Theatre. Secondly, the esteemed Kamala Harris. She is a newfound inspiration of mine for being the first African American Female Vice President of the United States. These two women are truly change agents and proof that with great work ethic and ambition, anything is possible."
- Latifa West
DAMON HOLLEY X NICOLE HOLLEY
"I would have to say my number one inspiration to this day would be my mother Nicole Holley! Mother of 5, ( I’m the oldest). Most of the women in my family drove Tractor Trailers for a living and my mother now owns her own trucking and transporting LLC. She the biggest influence in my life and has always had my back right or wrong, thick or thin."
- Damon Holley
JORDAN ELDRIDGE X KOBE BRYANT
"Kobe Bryant - reason being his mentality and his willingness to always want to be great! Mamba mentality stuck with me growing up. I live by Mamba mentality; it applies to anyone who is striving to achieve greatness in their field. One of my favorite quotes from Kobe Bryant is "If you want to be great at something, there's a choice you have to make. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be.” To get to where you want to be you will need to make sacrifices.
Lastly, I would have to say my parents. I picked up my work ethic from them. Watching my parents work as hard as they do to take care of my younger siblings pushes me to do more. They have made me into the respectful man I am today. My parents are my backbone!"
- Jordan Eldridge
TOBIAS HARRIS X "DADDY JOHN" MULZAC
"My grandfather, he was a Tuskegee Airman. What made the Tuskegee Airmen so special and important was that they were the starters of allowing African-Americans to break the norm and get into fly planes and be pilots. To know my grandfather was part of that group is an amazing feeling. One thing I know is the type of pride he took in that, and being able to be kind of a trendsetter for that time.
The main thing I take away from his story is resilience. Back in the day, with inequality and African-Americans not having the same type of opportunity, he was able to go out and really chase that opportunity. He was a sharp individual in terms of how he portrayed himself, what he wanted to do. He really wanted to be that type of person who leads for his family, and for his family line also. There's a lot I've learned from him that I embody to this day."