Updated: Mar 9, 2019
Author: Lola Morgan
Do you know your basic human rights? Sounds like a simple question until your forced to answer it.
Earlier this year I was captivated by a message given on Human Rights spoken by two-time Presidential Service Medal Winner Christopher King at a Gala held in Clearwater, FL named “The Gentleman’s Ball”.
Sitting in a room full of entrepreneurs and being amongst many others he has influenced in our community was breathtaking.
The event held a silent auction, raffles, and an open bar. Chris definitely ensured that all of his guests individually felt special.
His mission came to life and influenced many of the attendees in the room when a video was displayed about Human Rights, Sex-trafficking, and his inspiration towards his organization, “The Gentleman’s Course”.
Quickly after the event and allowing this new found knowledge to sink in, I knew I wanted to continue spreading awareness about the trivial topics most find to be tabooed.
Without further adieu, grab your morning coffee, sit back and enjoy the following interview from the man behind the plan:
Lola: What led you to run your own organization?
Chris: After a successful Career in Styling and Celebrity Management, a personal image was always very important to me. Three years ago my current management at the time helped me come up with the idea of how to give back to the community, which started with educating kids on etiquette and manners. The #1 rule of a Gentlemen is to truly put others ahead of yourself. Being humane is a key element in our course!
Lola: What prompted you to spread awareness about sex-trafficking/human rights?
Chris: I was called to make a celebrity-appearance for a non-profit in Tampa who launched a fundraiser for their youth- who happened to be human trafficking survivors. The organization was intricate in helping me build the beginning stages of my 501c3 non-profit. I volunteered with that organization for over a year which brought me closer to the crimes of Human trafficking being committed within our own community. Having the realization that Florida is ranked third in the nation, I felt convicted to pursue my own methods for assisting the youth. While also understanding that my children can fall victim to this silent crime, was an immediate reason to be an advocate!
Lola: What separates the awareness you spread vs. other organizations?
Chris: The one thing that separates my organization is the fact that we are truly on the ground and not just web-based or only engaged when its a public issue. Impacting kids in the school system has made it very easy and focused on making sure that “potential victims” get the message. We work when there isn't an issue publicly in the headlines. We make it a mission to host yearly sessions whether we have the funding or not. Most founders of nonprofits are rarely seen on the forefront working face to face with the youth, where I make it a point to be actively involved. That is one item I will never change regardless of how big our organization gets. I will ensure the kids will always be able to connect with me.
Lola: Who and what are your biggest inspirations?
Chris: My first and Biggest inspiration is my God who I believe in truly an entity that blesses, continuously gifting me experiences from jail to the white house and around the world. I truly believe in him with all my being. My second inspiration was and is my grandfather, the late B.B. King! He instilled in me a discipline that is unwavering with understanding not only for the business of entertainment but the true culture of “family in business”. I am also very grateful for my support base (The FANS, Donors, and people that push my mission/brand. Nothing short of truly providing a mental structure for success in the absence of resources. Lastly, to be able to see the glimmer in a child's eyes because of the impact I have on their lives (The ability to allow me to reach them closer than most parents, create a bond and vision of hope). Our youth are thirsty for knowledge and I provide them with pure outright respect as an individual not “telling” them what to do but guiding them to do the right thing.
“The Knowledge we learn, nobody can take that away from us”.- B.B. King
Lola: How has your grand-father B.B. King been an influence in your life?
Chris: My grandfather B. B. King (who is my Fathers, Father) was vital in my upbringing. B.B. not only was my father figure- The values he placed on raising me, whether with the late night phone calls, spending endless nights on the tour bus discussing life while educating me... just thinking of him brings me to tears. He was a vital role in my life! As I know he watches me put all his knowledge to use for the betterment of mankind, he keeps my energy alive! Understanding what it means to truly be a "KING" and have his blood flowing through my veins means a lot. (This isn’t about being related to someone famous) This is who I am. I am the young Black King, given the throne early in pursuits to continuously fight to keep the name clean daily. My grandfather's faith in me was clear, and I can vividly recall him saying, “Son, one day you will be bigger than me and the name “King”, will radiate through the headlines but you have to decide on what it will say. Choose your path wisely as your struggles are due to your own doing, but all of “your” problems can only be fixed by yourself. Focus! Stay straight and go for it, live with no fear and take life by the reigns, and crack that whip. A strong grip will keep you on the carriage as it speeds up". It took me a long time to understand what he was talking about. Yet when I grasped it, my reality changed. He was literally my living guardian angel!
Lola: How did you come up with the name, “The Gentleman’s Course” for your organization?
Chris: I was called the Tampa Gentleman once and it derived from my natural ability of how I treated people and carried myself. People wanted to be around me simply because of my energy and vibe. The same statement always struck others about me, people would say “You're a true Gentleman, we need to see more like you”. So as we developed the idea of me giving back to the community coming up with the name, “The Gentlemen's Course, Inc.” stuck quickly!
Lola: Was there a particular child or person that inspired you to run The Gentleman’s Course?
Chris: To be honest, my single inspiration was my son and having the understanding that he will follow in my footsteps. My father didn't raise me and I wanted to ensure that I was present for my children. I want to be a viable participant in his path of growing up, by being his mentor, counselor, best friend, and his Father. Teaching him the important values of a true Gentlemen- not just a man! The ability to be a Gentleman is a title earned not self-appointed. Although born a boy, we age into a man, but to be a Gentleman you must make a choice! A lot of adult males in this world have no clue about this principle. If my son doesn’t grow up right it's my fault, and that type of failure is not an option.
Lola: What’s your number one purpose in life?
Chris: My number one purpose is to leave a legacy that my kids and family can honor and respect while creating a pathway for others to become successful. In the midst of adults leaving their children with debt, heartache, and no mental or physical value for them to keep pushing for humanity. I want to build something that is around for generations to come- A proud legacy that my god will say, “Job well done, son”!
Lola: What does your legacy look like?
Chris: One that appeals to humanity! I can’t compare it to any advocates before me, But I will say this, they will remember me, they will remember what I stood for, the livesI’ve impacted directly, and a message I live by: “If We Change Our Youth, they Will Change Our Future”.
Lola: What is the inspiration behind your yearly events?
Chris: As a non-profit you're slated to provide annual reports publicly to the community, it allows them to understand your mission & showcase the work you have done. We hold these events semi-annually to keep them engaged with our progress and also as a main source of fundraising for our future growth. These events are held at the Scientology headquarters, simply because they allow Non-profits to use their luxurious facilities for the sole purpose of raising awareness and community enrichment. Tell us the mission behind your upcoming all white affair event?The mission for The Gentlemen's Ball being held this June 2019 is truly a celebration to continuously raise awareness. Amongst it being the 3rd anniversary and my Birthday Celebration it marks a key moment in history. Most baby boomer non-profits don't make it out of the first two years - That’s an accomplishment! We truly hope to continue building our program and will be further introducing our new elements of, “The Gentlemen of Tampa Male Mentor Program”, which will soon follow, “The Ladies of Tampa, an all-female Mentor program” designed to enrich and build true fellowship amongst one another in personal growth and etiquette. In the midst of this, we will also introduce, “The Human Rights and Etiquette Center! A facility that will enrich all to not only learn their human rights but encourages education for the youth on How to Be Gentlemen and Ladies!
Lola: WOW! I'm pretty sure you are all as captivated as I am, and we at BGCI Thank you Christopher for allowing us to shed light on your passions of involvement within the community!
Lola B. Morgan
Content writer, Influencer, and Creator of A GRIOT'S CORNER, are just minor details to this young woman's story. Creatively captivating her audience, Lola proclaims using her voice to reveal untold stories and pushing content that allows reflection. Looking to ride her coattail? She's just a click away: @oooh_lo_lah