Award-Winning Actor | New York Times Best-Selling Author | Humanitarian
Why was it important for you to partner with Toyota?
It was important to partner with Toyota because we need to spark a conversation up around the subject of community building and sustainability and Toyota is a company that represents that in many ways. They have the most sustainable cars out of all the car makers, they produce the most cars of any automaker in the United States and they have an African American who runs their biggest auto plant in Kentucky, so they are doing a great job. They supported my foundation, the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which helps at-risk youth, so I appreciate what they represent in terms of their corporate responsibility and all of that. I used to drive a Prius myself so that's a good thing.
Let’s talk about the surprise you received today.
So, Toyota came and supported my foundation publicly with a 10,000-dollar donation which is so important because when you have a small foundation like mine, each dollar makes a difference because we're able to use that in order to do our programming. Unlike large foundations that have a whole lot of costs and big buildings, we don't have that. A lot of young people want to be in our programs, but we can't afford to have as many young people. demand so Supporting the foundation like Toyota did today means a lot and it means that many more young people can be a part of our Summer Empowerment Academy. This year, we did it with all young men in Baltimore and here in D.C. Next summer, I'm attempting to scale and grow so we are going to do a huge program with the most challenged neighborhoods in Detroit. We're targeting all areas where we can have the most impact.
We saw the Bloods and the Crips come together in Los Angeles due to the police brutality that is occurring in America right now. Talk about the benefits of this.
Anytime we see groups of people coming together such as the Blood and the Crips, community policing initiatives and young men of color, all of this is important because we must figure out ways to align our common interests and our best self. Toyota thinks about sustainability; I think about sustainability, but it really depends on how you can define a sustainable community. A sustainable community to me is more than just an environmentally friendly community. In other words, just having clean water. Now obviously when you look at a place like Flint, clean water is important. Health is the first key, but beyond that, it's about being able to walk the streets and not have military-style policing. It's about being able to not live in a food desert where you can’t get healthy food that's locally sourced. It’s also being able to have various job opportunities and healthy education systems. This is what creates sustainability. If you don't have all these elements, the community itself isn't sustainable. We must be more proactive, smarter and innovative in terms of the way corporations interact with communities.