BE Modern Man: Kent Olden
Public relations and media pro, 35, Coordinator of Communications and Development, the Buffalo (N.Y.) Urban League
Twitter: @theoldendaze; Instagram: @theoldendaze
As the coordinator of development and communications at the Buffalo Urban League, I am responsible for overseeing all of the agency’s public, media, and community relations; special events and fundraising; and social media management. Ultimately, with the Urban League focusing on empowering minorities to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights, my job as a media pro is to tell the stories of the 20,000 individuals impacted annually through the League’s services. I also serve as an editor for NYC-based Bleu Magazine—a lifestyle publication for men of color—telling our stories and celebrating our achievements to be shared with the world.
Outside of my work, my dedication to community engagement is demonstrated through various organizations including: the Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals; the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo’s Emerging Philanthropists of Color and charitySTRONG; the National Action Network; Open Buffalo’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2018; the National Association of Black Journalists; The College Simulation Experience; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated; the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Western New York; Paramount Lodge #73 of the Prince Hall Affiliated Free & Accepted Masons; Buffalo-Niagara Partnership’s BN360 Spotlight Professionals Class of 2019; and much more.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
To me, manhood is being strong enough to know when you’re needed and when you’re in need. Too often we put these characteristics of what “a real man” is based on what we’ve been told he should be. In my opinion, a real man is one who steps up when his help is needed and speaks up when he needs help. He bounces back from obstacles tossed his way and steps back when he knows he’s not the one who should be at the reins. My manhood is defined by my own self-awareness, acknowledging and embracing who I am as a person and who I am here to be.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
I would have to say that what I am most proud of in my life is not being like everybody else. I’m from a city where a huge chunk of people have no idea what life is like elsewhere because they have never gone outside the city limits. I was able to travel the country and experience new things at a very young age. When it came time to apply to college, my mother told me, “You’re only allowed to apply to one school in Buffalo, and you can only attend that one if you don’t get in anywhere else.” Now I’m a Morehouse Man. It’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
There’s a quote that’s ingrained in every man who sets foot on Morehouse College‘s campus: “In all that you do, do it so well that no man living, no man dead, and no man yet to be born will be able to do it better.” These words (by Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, 6th President of the College) teach us to be the best men we can possibly be with whatever endeavor we take on. It is not our job, nor should it be our goal, to be better than anyone else, but to be better than who we were yesterday. And when that constant and consistent personal growth takes place, your seat at the table is made ready for you. After all, if you don’t have a seat at the table, then you’re probably on the menu.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I was always told that your education and experience is worthless unless you go back home and share it. I am forever grateful for my experience at an HBCU and I try to integrate it in any project I may be working on. Whether it’s being a part of a panel discussion on HBCU or Greek Life, being able to sponsor black male students to participate in HBCU college fairs and tours, serving as a volunteer for The College Simulation Experience, or just having a one-on-one conversation with a young man who’s interested in learning more, using my own experience to expose these young men to a world outside of what they’re used to is what I know to do. I always have been, and always will be, here to push another black man to be better than himself.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
We are a species that is often imitated but never really duplicated because we are a unique design all our own. I make it a point to surround myself with other black men who are about their business. Just being in an environment like that motivates you to be better and propels you deeper into your purpose!
WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?
I’ve always been keen on expanding my vocabulary, so I read a lot. Because of that, I’ve developed a pretty extensive list of motivational and inspirational quotes taken from books and articles that I’ve read. I randomly choose one to read to myself every morning and then make it my goal to live my day based on that particular quote. I also share the quote on Facebook for anyone else who may need that pick-me-up for the day (because we never know what someone is going through).
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (dev.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://dev.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.