Tied To Greatness: Creating A Movement of Inspired Young Men

by ellis j. still

On February 20, 2010, I participated in what is part of a movement for young inner city men around the world called Tied To Greatness. Tied To greatness is the brainchild of custom clothier Alex Ellis, and is an outreach program that travels across the country and abroad, reaching inner city young men through the power of exciting entertainment, powerful dialogue, and support from celebrity guests and community leaders. Mr. Ellis has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, has been a guest on the Steve Harvey Morning show as well as participated in Mr. Harvey’s summer youth programs, and Mr. Ellis has participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in Disney, Florida among other things.

The program centered on inviting 300 young men and 300 adult men to a one-day mentoring experience where the adults show the young men how to tie a tie. Even through many of the young men have never owned, let alone tied a tie, the tie was not the purpose. The goal was to give young people an understanding that who they are on the inside should reflect in how they dress on the outside, and vice versa. There is nothing more frustrating than being profiled in a department store as a potential thief and you know that you are not a thief. But if you are dressed like and carry yourself as if you are a thief, you are more likely to be profiled. The reality is that people perceive and treat you based on your exterior self. Another reality is that the way you dress on the outside is also how you perceive yourself on the inside.

There also were periods of male bonding and camaraderie. Well known celebrities spoke and performed such as poet Othell Miller, EXTRA NY Correspondent AJ Calloway, branch manager of PNC Bank Wes Ifan, The Honorable Judge Dennis Nieves from the superior Court of New Jersey, a performance by tap dance performer, choreographer, and director Jason Samuels Smith from the Broadway play Bringing The Noise, Bringing the Funk, and a special presentation of Black Angels Over Tuskegee by Lamman Rucker & the Black Gents of Hollywood.

The mixture of speakers and performances captivated the audience, not because they were celebrities, but because they all had stories to tell. They all as black men had seen and lived through life’s adversities and was able to not only persevere, but to do exceedingly well by utilizing the gifts that God has given them. This program was important because it wasn’t just an assemblage of speakers talking at people, but a mentoring opportunity that engaged the young people’s minds.

The climax of the day was when the adult men were paired with young men, and were given a tie. Extra time was allowed for the two to get to know one another… a male bonding moment of sorts. The adult showed the youth how to tie the tie, had the youth practice a few times, and the tie was a gift to the young people. These were not cheap ties – these ties were quality material ties… ties that when one would look in the mirror, makes one think more about themselves, that they know that they are Tied To Greatness.

The same young men that were scowling and trying to be “hard” before the day started were now smiling with the assurance in knowing that as black men, there is much more to us than what people see on the outside, that what is on the inside must reflect what is on the outside, and vice versa. Many young men never see what success looks like… never even think about reaching for their dreams, if they had dreams to begin with. This program has opened many young people’s minds to what can be possible in their lives. They just have to believe. For more information on Tied To Greatness, visit their website at http://www.tiedtogreatness.org .

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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