At age 17, Antjuan Kimbrough considered himself worthless. With two kids, he had no diploma, no father-figure and no future.
“I felt like nothing, so I acted like nothing,” he said.
That was until someone else — a local attorney by the name of Reginald Estell Jr. — took the teen under his wing and showed him his true worth.
“He came into my life and he started to love me for the person that I was,” he said. “Also, he introduced me to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…and ever since then, I’ve been a rocket ship.”
Eight years later, Kimbrough — once, a high school dropout — is now enrolled in Berklee College of Music.
These days the rapper and motivational speaker goes by the stage name “T’Juan” and can be found touring the country with BET’s Wrap It Up HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.
But it took an understanding of value – namely, his own – to make that change.
“Somebody took time out to make me to care for myself beyond the mistakes I’ve made, beyond what I look like, beyond what I’ve done,” he said.
Values were at the heart of the Monday night forum where Kimbrough spoke alongside St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church pastor the Rev. John Guns, State Attorney Angela Corey and other local leaders at the Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.
The discussion was part of the week-long campaign known as Operation Save Our Sons aimed at curbing black on black crime among Jacksonville youth. Guns and other local ministers began the initiative last year with a mission of empowering young black men to make better life choices.
“No parent wants their child to go to jail,” said Bethel Baptist pastor Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. “No parent wants their child to come to the state attorneys office. I don’t know anyone who wants that. But it’s a reality.”
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