Name: Tony Lewis Jr.
Profession: Author/ Community Activist/ Reentry Expert
One Word That Describes You: Solid
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
Over my 17 year career I have helped men, women, and children, which has allowed me to impact entire families. I mentor and advocate for kids with incarcerated parents, I help returning citizens get jobs, I feed homeless shelters, coordinate turkey drives and toy drives, promote peace and organize anti-violence rallies and facilitate marches. I have made philanthropy and community service a cool thing to do, and for that I am grateful. The most important thing I did was to write Slugg: A Boy’s Life In The Age of Mass Incarceration, which allows readers all over to experience my activism and be inspired to do their part in helping those in need.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It’s a great honor; I am extremely proud to be a part of this group of influential black Men.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I used my father, uncles, and friends’ incarceration as motivation not to go to prison. I used my friends’ deaths as motivation to promote peace as opposed to seeking vengeance. I took all the trauma in my life (mentally ill mother, incarcerated father, growing up in a drug and violence plagued community) and wrote my memoir as a blueprint for survival to youth all across the country growing up in similar circumstances.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Genuine interest and concern for other people.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
A literacy campaign called Home Court/Field Advantage that will be in partnership with professional athletes to provide “Slugg” to students in the city they play in and their hometown. Lecturing at universities across the country, and coordinating an initiative for inmates at D.C. jails to have parent-teacher conferences with D.C. Public Sschools teachers. Not to mention my day-to-day work helping men and women returning from incarceration identify gainful employment.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Consistency is your greatest weapon.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Start small, think big, and above all be consistent.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
For meetings I make sure I am well versed on the information being discussed and I try to research the person or entity I am meeting with so that I have some background on them, it helps when trying to connect the dots. As it relates to events I make sure I pay attention to all the details and most times that requires having a strong team to support your vision .
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I definitely don’t get the opportunity to vacation as much as I should but when I do I like to just go to the beach and listen to the ocean. I can literally do that for hours. My wife and I went to Mexico on our honeymoon, and it was phenomenal. We basically had the resort to ourselves. Personal butler, cabana, reserved beach area, and more. It was incredible.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would go to Egypt, I have always wanted to see the Pyramids.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Read my book, then go make the world a better place. Things will only change when we change them.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the first-ever Black Men XCEL Summit, Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.