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Life for Selwyn Miles Jones began in abject poverty in Goldsboro, North Carolina. The son of tobacco and cotton sharecroppers, he was the youngest of seventeen children. Their three-room shack was sparsely furnished and had no indoor plumbing – a pail on the back porch was the makeshift receptacle for the disposal of personal waste – and cardboard was placed in the windows to cover the broken glass that was too expensive to repair.
Selwyn realized early in life that working in the fields was yet another form of enslavement; he was determined to rise above the limitations of his life circumstance. As a gifted and disciplined athlete, Selwyn found success playing arena football, which afforded him the opportunity to escape from the constraints of his family’s financial deprivation. He then found that his natural ability to speak easily with people from all walks in life translated well to prosperity in a sales career, and ultimately led to ownership of a hotel with his wife, Joie.
It has been said that there is no “before” until there is an “after.” That line of awareness was forever etched in the soul of humankind on May 25, 2020, when the world witnessed the precious life of George “Perry” Floyd slowly drain away for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds under the unrelenting, murderous knee of Derek Chauvin. While the world wept, Selwyn’s heart literally broke as he watched his nephew beg for his life and cry out for his mother, Selwyn’s older sister, Cissy. But in the midst of his despair, Selwyn was comforted by the thought that George’s death had touched and deeply affected the humanity in each of us. Through this horrific injustice, he knew that all hearts felt a collective grief, and from that grief would arise a thundering outcry for justice and awareness that would literally change the world.
Since that fateful day, Selwyn has been on an inspirational journey to encourage and moderate the oft-uncomfortable discussion on racism in America. He has dedicated his life to inspiring people from all ethnicities to seek universal compassion and respect, and to embrace the understanding that we are stronger when we focus on the similarities – and not the differences – among us.