When asked what it means to support our community, Derric Thompson said, “Just being available. I’m sharing resources, staying involved, volunteering, and making myself an essential worker.” Derric co-founded a youth mentorship program, Leaders Become Legends, that supports young Black men as they secure employment, get into stable housing, pursue education, heal their self-esteem, and work through experiences of trauma and relationship patterns that no longer serve them.
Derric is on the front lines of our community, supporting people both inside and outside the program. What keeps him going? “Knowing that people like myself can change. Situations are not forever.”
We are inspired by Derric’s dedication as he spends many early mornings and late nights working to ensure the community is supported while weaving mental health awareness and healing into Black culture. He is passionate about lifting up those who have been left behind by our mental health system and other networks of support. Since mid-2019, Derric has worked alongside Lines for Life as a Cultural Community Advocate. Whether he’s delivering food and diapers to families in need, connecting with young mentees, or leading community organizations, we are proud to work with Derric and share the stories of his incredible impact on the community.
What now? “I wish people knew more about the systems in place. Whether it’s housing, healthcare, or education.” Derric wants the White allies in his community to get involved and educate themselves on the obstacles facing communities of color. “We, as Black people, always connect with White people. We go to their events. We go into their community. We learn about their culture in our schools. There’s probably not too much we don’t know about White people, but can they say the same about us?” This Black History Month we hope you take the time to heed Derric’s call to action.