TheBlackManCan travels to the Lone Star State for its next feature. It is our distinct honor and pleasure to introduce the newest member of the League of EXTRAordinary Black Men, Jesse Muhammad. Brother Jesse is a journalist award-winning blogger, experienced community organizer and touring national motivational speaker. He sits down with TheBlackManCan to talk about his passion for motivating and why Mediocrity is not in your D.N.A.
The Black Man Can: Jesse, you are a highly sought after motivational speaker. When did you realize you had a talent to inspire people through your words?
JM: It may surprise some, but I grew up pretty quiet and shy about speaking in public except of course when I was around friends and family. My mother would force me to sing an Easter program solo every year in church. My grandmother would always get me to say something in church but I didn’t like it. I would be sweating bullets.
I would say my breakthrough as a speaker came when I came in contact with the Nation of Islam in high school. Once I started filling my head with that knowledge I became armed with something I wanted to tell everyone within my sphere of existence. Soon I became an eager speaker in high school always ready to be the lead representative on team projects. It continued during my years at Prairie View A&M University as I started emceeing and hosting multiple functions on the yard. My training came from studying the delivery of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and others. I joined the NOI Ministry Class wherein I learned the mechanics of delivering a message, the art of preparation, the science of connecting with your audience and most importantly having the proper motive.
The Black Man Can: Your work in the community dates back to your attendance as a student at Prairie View A & M University where you were known for starting initiatives aimed at helping others. What sparked the mindset to do such work?
JM: My sense of getting involved in my community can be traced back to my elementary days when I was being raised by my grandmother for a few years. That 80-plus year old woman, Myrtle J. Ross, was so actively involved in so much in Houston and nationally. She was always flying to various conferences, and dragging me to what I considered boring neighborhood meetings. She kept my siblings, cousins and I connected to the political arena and deprived us of Saturday morning cartoons by showing us door-to-door campaigning, poll watching and activism on multiple levels. I hated it then, but I appreciate it now. With that instilled in me coupled with being a member of the NOI, community involvement has become first nature. I believe my purpose is to use all of my blessed gifts, talents and resources to serve others. In serving, we’re always the winner because we get back tenfold what we put out.
The Black Man Can: After you graduated from high school as a scholar-athlete, you joined the Nation of Islam. How has this faith helped you in life?
JM: Without the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the example of Minister Farrakhan, I honestly don’t think most of the people who know me today would even have crossed my path. I’ve always said that yes I was a relatively good young man growing up with a good head on my shoulders. I always believed I would be successful but I think I was only headed towards just having a good job. Life isn’t about getting secured with just a job, it’s about living a meaningful life—one that touches and enhanced the lives of others. That’s what the NOI has done for me. It has given me a spiritual foundation. It has evolved me into a man of purpose and everyday I’m striving to bear witness to the power of the Word delivered by Minister Farrakhan.
The Black Man Can: Who have been instrumental mentors in your life?
JM: There’s so many to name! It’s interesting that you should ask this because this past year I started making it a habit of telling people “Thank you for helping me become the man that I am and becoming.” Gratitude is the highest attitude. I believe I would be doing an injustice by just naming a few and will just say I’ve been blessed to have so many people help to shape me up until this point. They know who they are! Most importantly, All Praise is Due to Allah.
The Black Man Can: On your website, you provide a detailed account of your journey in finding your biological father. What was your inspiration for sharing your story and how has it impacted your readers?
JM: I’m a very private person when it comes to my family so it was a major move for me to go public with the search for my biological father. In truth, I needed the public attention, not for vanity purposes, but for encouragement. Growing up I had developed the attitude that since he didn’t care to see about me, I didn’t need to know who he was. But we all need that thorough knowledge of self in order to truly see why we’re the way we are. I desired to know him and I didn’t want that “I don’t care” attitude to overtake me again. Thus, the public support was necessary for me personally to see the entire process all the way through. Boy, I didn’t know it would strike a serious nerve! I’ve received testimonies from across the globe about how my story motivated others to do the same thing. I’m working on a book right now about the entire experience.
The Black Man Can: Can you tell us more about your motivational theme “Mediocrity is Not in Your D.N.A”?
JM: One day I was reading the book “Closing The Gap: Inner Views of the Heart, Mind and Soul of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan” by Jabril Muhammad. It’s a compilation of questions and answers between these two great men. In one of his responses, Min. Farrakhan stated that God did not create us to be mediocre but to be masters of everything we put our mind to. A “light bulb” came over my head and thus my theme was born.
JM: I’m still learning on a daily basis and working to master my craft. As a youngster I was skilled at writing poems for the young girls, so I had a way with words. Ha! In college, I started doing spoken word performances on the yard with people who rolled in the same circle. I never imagined being a news writer or blogger. Its funny how we go out trying to find our purpose but our purpose tends to tap us on the shoulder and say “Hey man, what you doing is good but you suppose to go this way.”
The Black Man Can: In 2007, you became the Co-founder and Senior Editor of For Youth Teens and Young Adults. Can you share with us more about this youth newspaper?
JM: It’s not in circulation anymore but at that time I was working closely with a great friend of mine, Keith J. Davis, Sr, who owns D-Mars.com. I was serving as the publicist for his son Keith Jr., whom I have mad love for. His father has a keen eye for trends and he saw that there was/is a void in the area of printed newspapers promoting the good works of young people. We always read about the bad things but rarely read about their achievements from cover to cover in a paper. So we launched it in the Houston market and the impact was just as he calculated. Young people are starving to be recognized. It was a great venture.
The Black Man Can: You have a host of inner-active presentations that you do for youth. Can you share some of them with us?
JM: I don’t take it lightly when I’m standing before young people because that’s not only the future, that’s the present. One message I always drive home to them is the true purpose of education, having a purpose in life and living a meaningful life that enhances and touches the lives of others.
The Black Man Can: Jesse, for those who would like to involve you in future speaking engagements, how would they get in contact with you?
JM: If anyone would like to bring me to their city to speak, they can contact my publicist Tyffanie of Next Level Mgt 101 at 281-806-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also check out my blog at http://jessemuhammad.blogs.finalcall.com/.
The Black Man Can: What words of advice would you like to leave for the youth?
JM: Do not play down your greatness for the sake of making others feel comfortable around you. Shine your light and force them to step up their game!
To you, Brandon, I appreciate the work you’re doing. I look forward to us working together more in 2011 and beyond.
Our mission is to actively promote a positive black male image. Welcome to the Spotlight: League of EXTRAordinary Black Men. Here, we spotlight black men weekly who are having a positive impact in communities across the country. These men are actively promoting a positive black male image each and every day. If you know a man that should be spotlighted please send an email to email@example.com In that email please state who you are and why you are nominating this individual. Please leave your contact information and the contact information of the individual you are nominating.