First Black president of Big Brothers Big Sisters speaks about his new mission to help others

ATLANTA — Monday starts Black History Month and for the first time in the 116 year history of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, there is now a Black man in charge.

Channel 2 Anchor Fred Blankenship talked one-on-one with Artis Stevens about his mission for the organization and the impact his role will have on the children they serve.

“No matter what circumstance you are in, here’s your opportunity to see if this person can make it you can as well,” Stevens said. “I grew up in those types of circumstances and saw it in my community, but what I knew is that I always had people to look to.I always had role models whether it was from my parents but even more from the community around me. When I saw people break barriers it gave me the inspiration.”

Stevens’ hope is for every child regardless of race and socio-economic background to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. He says it starts with the village around them.

“Sometimes people think that it’s hard, it’s difficult to become a mentor to become a volunteer. Sometimes it’s just about your time. It’s just about being there,” he told Blankenship.

Stevens grew up in Brunswick in a household of eight. He was the youngest and the first in his family to graduate from college. He earned his degree at the University of Georgia.

“I knew about growing up and growing up with people’s feet next to me because we had multiple people in the bed. That was modest means, modest means. I have the family that were related to me, but I also had the extended family what I call the village. That village helped me grow but it was also people who blazed a trail so that I could be a first,” he said.

Stevens’ hope is that others heed the call to mentorship and join the Big Brother, Big Sister village especially during this critical time. He said there are 30,000 children on the waiting list, most of them boys.

“We have to ensure that we are engaging men and that we are creating an open environment. We want women as well, but we so desperately need men to step up and say this is something I can be a part of and that I want to be apart of.”

“But no kid should wait for these types of relationships. No kid should wait for these types of services. We have to ensure that we are mobilizing more volunteers more people who are willing to raise their hand, extend their hand to support and help kids in our community,” Stevens said.

Black History Month resources:

[ African-American History Month ]

[ Smithsonian Education – Black History Month ]

[ National Park Service – African-American Heritage ]

[ National Archives – African-American History Portal ]

[ National Park Service – Telling All Americans’ Stories: African-American Heritage ]

[ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Black History Month ]

[ Library of Congress - African-American History Month ]

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