I grew up as the 9th of 10 children in Greensboro. My father was an alcoholic who beat my mother. He died when I was in the fifth grade, and I was terrified. He had been the sole provider for our household. I remember sitting on the porch wondering where I’d be in five years. Would I be in a shelter? In foster care? Would I be separated from my brothers and sisters?
A few days after my father died, my mom’s friend came by. She explained that now that her husband was gone, my mother could kick her feet up and relax because the government would take care of everything. But that wasn’t my mom. As soon as her friend left, she got up and walked over to the local university and got a job as a janitor. She had a fifth-grade education and 5 kids to provide for. She chose to clean up for other kids to provide for her own. She didn’t just rise to the challenge, she excelled. She gave a sense of calm and purpose to us. From that point on, we always had what we needed- very little of what we wanted, but always what we needed.
My mother was and always will be my hero. She showed me what strength and perseverance looked like first hand, and taught me that with, faith, and hard work, I could achieve anything.
Those early years of hardship were just the beginning of my struggles. My wife and I have endured a lot. I lost not one, but two jobs due to NAFTA. We lost homes, cars, and were even forced into bankruptcy. I remember one summer that my kids called “cold summer” where we couldn’t afford hot water, so we took cold showers. I remember lying awake at night wondering how I was going to pay the bills. But I never forgot what my mother taught me, and we never gave up.
Together my wife of over 30 years and I persevered and raised two incredible children. Now we have two amazing grand kids.
In 2018 my life changed when I gave a speech to the Greensboro city council that went viral. A year later I launched my campaign for governor and when I was elected in 2020, became the first black Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.
As Lieutenant Governor I have had the privilege to work on a lot of issues, but my main focus has been on education. It is a passion of mine, and the reason I ran for Lieutenant Governor. I have been a vocal proponent of parents knowing what their children are being taught. I have supported providing opportunities for all students to have an education that best suites them, whether that’s in a private school, charter school, home school, or public school. I have championed workforce development programs to give students more opportunities for success after high school, and was even able to secure over $11 Million dollars in the state budget for apprenticeship programs. I have also been extremely outspoken about ensuring that our schools are safe for students and teachers.
There is so much that we need to address in this state and I look forward to sharing my vision throughout the course of my campaign for Governor.