Leadership Legends

Front row, from left, are Terence Johnson, Jardae Williams, Michael Collins, Everett Green, Carlos Moore, Jayden Smith, Joseph Stokes, Isaiah Hightower and Brian Knighton. Back row, from left, are Frederick Cunningham, Amari Davis, Vernol Gaines, Joshua Hale, RJ Taylor, Javin Hunter and Jacolby Edwards.

MOULTRIE, Ga. — A few years ago, Moultrie natives Brian Knighton and RJ Taylor were discussing the need for change and a better future. Fortunately for 13 young men, that discussion never stopped.

Knighton and Taylor reached out to the Archway Partnership for assistance and were connected with Terence Johnson, a leadership specialist at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, according to a press release from Archway. Together, they developed and implemented a meaningful curriculum with that hopes to change the course of history in Colquitt County.

Leadership Legends is designed to create a class of African American males who will become productive and active members of their community, constructing a transformational change in leadership, Archway Professional Sarah Adams said.

“These young men act as a catalyst to reform the internal and external perceptions of African Americans in Colquitt County,” Adams said. “Thirteen local eighth grade students were selected through criteria to participate in a three-year pilot program, with goals to achieve the following outcomes: to increase African American leadership in the community, equip young African American men to positively contribute to their community, improve race relations, and strategically build a critical capacity of African American male leaders who will be responsible for empowering younger males that follow them.”

To accomplish these goals, the students in the Leadership Legends program have opportunities for leadership skills training, reality-based experiential role-plays, college-awareness education, and mentorship opportunities with positive upperclassmen and a variety of community leaders. Each year will build on prior sessions through skill development and experiences, and the graduates will then serve as mentors during their 11th and 12th grade years.

Leadership Legends has not only been recognized at the local level, but also highlighted on campus at University of Georgia conferences in Athens. This fall, Leadership Legends will be recognized at the national level as leaders gather at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) in Denver, Colo. ESC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization made up of higher education member institutions, both public and private. It serves as a platform to encourage strong university-community partnerships and build community capacity. 

“It is amazing to watch how quickly the spark of a local idea has become a flame worthy of national recognition,” Adams said.

React to this story: