Black History Month: 'Love always wins!'
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Passionate Christian Louis Maycock of Highfield, St Albans, is a strong role model for young people.
He said for him, Black History Month evokes a sense of pride and inspiration: "We reflect not so much on what went wrong, but the good that was produced in the characters of many in the face of much challenge and adversity. It illuminates those individuals who encourage me on my life journey and reinforces a sense of worth.
"Black people are often celebrated in the media, but at times it's limited to the life of football or rapping, of for the negative connotations still associated with blackness: the riots, knife crime, the aid in Africa or drugs.
"But we are so much more, and it takes an initiative like Black History Month to highlight not just the pride of being black, but being present and noted for the good. I still love to hear about exploits of Dr King and Malcolm X, but I get so much more from reading about people who look like me, who have become lawyers, run successful business, who are inventors, philanthropists. A reflection of what happened is good, but an understand of who we are and are becoming in more important."
He describes his heritage as a melting pot of all that is good, with a father from Barbados and a mixed race mother of Irish and Jamaican heritage: "I’m grateful that the best of each of my worlds have shaped me."
Although he thinks we have come a long way in this country when it comes to attitudes to race, he feels there is still a journey ahead.
"I see the race issue as wounded and the plaster has done an OK job of a temporary fix, but the cut requires deeper attention for real healing. This takes honestly, uncomfortable conversations, forgiveness and being brave enough to walk in someone else's shoes to feel and experience something our prejudice blinds us from. And yes we ALL have a prejudice."
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He says he is inspired by people like the white guy in the crowd who stood up to support Martin Luther King, the guy who went against his own people to do what was right, but also draws encouragement from local people.
"The heroes I have are local heroes to me, people like my dad who pours out encouragement to the community from his car garage or my mum who said 'Let’s do something about this issue we face in Hertfordshire .. let’s foster!' Or the single parent who fights to create a better life for their kids and finds the strength to smile even when it feels like their world is crashing - they are overcomers!"
Louis became a Christian when he was 19, and says his relationship with Jesus was the biggest factor in pushing a young man who grew up on a St Albans council estate to attend university, to study for further degrees, to volunteer as a special constable, to become a chartered surveyor, to travel the world and ultimately be given the tools to fix and deal with some of the brokenness in his own life.
"As a Christian, I believe it’s our responsibility to love people even if they do not share your same beliefs or look like you or vote the same as you. This is a powerful thing in the discussion of race and remains the greatest theme in my life. Love always wins.
"I have recently been asked if I would become a trustee of a new youth initiative to start in St Albans. A charity to provide extra educational support to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am hoping you will hear more about this next year."
If you would like to share your story with us for Black History Month please email firstname.lastname@example.org