Author and producer Kevon Gulley has revolutionized urban books with his debut novel “Just Like Compton”.
Since its publication in 2011, “Just Like Compton” has gained quite a bit of popularity. A one-time foster child, gang member and 13-year prison veteran, Gulley wrote the book because he decided it was time to make a change.
Gulley spoke with the Sentinel about another change he received from up on high.
“God picks on me,” said Gulley. “God is always giving me stuff.
“It was three in the morning… Saving Black Boys popped into my head. I was like, ‘What is that? What is Saving Black Boys?’”
Gulley resisted the calling he felt God put on his heart but it wouldn’t leave him alone. Eventually he said yes to the spiritual urging and started the process of creating an organization that he feels will save lives.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it’,” said Gulley. “I asked God to guide my path.”
Established in October 2014, Saving Black Boys (SBB) is a 501 © non-profit organization that partnered with the Los Angeles County and is constructed on all the things he felt he was missing in his life as a kid.
Gulley notes that the organization takes a realistic approach to life by teaching young Black youth how to deal with real life situations. He even incorporates the lessons he learned into Saving Black Boys programs.
“My experience makes me an expert,” said Gulley.
Using his own money, Gulley started holding events in order to get SBB started and began a momentum which has turned into a living program. Some of the traditional programs include sex and driver’s education, but SBB takes it one step further.
“We have something called Pull Over Etiquette,” said Gulley. “We pull the kids over and we show them how to not get killed when the police pull them over.“That shiny cellphone can get you killed, reaching for that radio can get you killed—it’s never the driver … the idiot in the passenger seat or the guy in the back seat that’s going to say something smart, sucking his teeth.”
Gulley does his best use these programs to fill in the void of fatherless young Black men that are a part of SBB.
The killing of young Black men across the nation has created groups like Black Lives Matter, which address these issues in a public forum, but Gulley makes a distinction between other organizations and SBB.
“Black Lives Matter is a band-aid—we’re surgery,” said Gulley, who has respect for the national organization but feels SBB takes it one step further.
“I’m building a village of do-ers .“
SBB has a couple of upcoming events that includes a magazine ad and a sleepover workshop, in which Gulley addresses issues like gang activity, police/civilian interaction and being fatherless. Gulley says real change starts with up close interaction.
“They need to see it,” said Gulley. “Our Black boys really don’t care about what you’re saying.
“[They] need to see what you’re saying because everybody before you told [them] the same thing. So you’re not telling [them] anything new. We act out those skits that are really life skills.
“They have to see it because we are dying,” he says.
Gulley shared a story about one of young men SBB was able to help and put him back on the track towards success.
“I had a kid, he was a Crip [gang member], his mom brought him to me crying, scared she would lose her son to the street” said Gulley. “That kid has now beaten out 400 hundred other students to get into St. John Bosco High School.
“When he came to me, he was a little Crip with an attitude problem.”
To Gulley, SBB exists because he said yes to a vision given to him by God. He is now creating a path he hopes will lead young Black men to a better future.
“When I told God no [initially], this was before Ezell Ford, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, before any of those killings, that brand of confirmation, that was God saying, ‘Go do what I told you’.
“SBB has a plan to steal our children back from the streets.”
For more information on Saving Black Boys, please visit www.saveblackboys.org