Black History Month: Ronald Benton
Each week in February, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News is celebrating Black History Month by telling the story of West Tennesseans, and it is sponsored by the Tennessee Education Lottery.
Our first spotlight is of a man who goes above and beyond for his community.
Born and raised in Shelby County, pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Jackson, Ronald Benton has lived in the Hub City for seven years.
He says he now knows this was where he was meant to be all along.
“The Lord called me based on my past. I’m a recovered drug addict and alcoholic. Not recovering because I’d never do that again, and so I have a passion for people that I used to be like. So I have a major drive to try to help them become what they were intended to be,” Benton said.
Along with his role as being a pastor, Benton wears several hats throughout his community.
From being the president and CEO of a nonprofit called Benton Future Leaders to being the owner of New Hub Club in Jackson that mentors youths, his contributions go even further.
“I am one of the chaplains of the Jackson Police Department. Also, I deal with Safe Baby Court. I’m on that board. Also, the chairman of the policy council for Head Start for 16 counties here in West Tennessee,” Benton said.
Benton says his goal is to impact three generations and create a solid foundation within his community.
“It’s hard for our young people now to stand straight on a crooked foundation. So we’re trying to re-establish the foundation, which is only possible through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Helping people with their self-esteem because we have so many broken families with incarceration with drugs and gangs and the whole nine yards,” Benton said.
He says grace and the love from his mother are the only reasons he is where he is today after such a troubling past.
He couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for a second chance to make a difference.
“Now that I’m sober and I look back over my life, I don’t want people to struggle and go through what I’ve already been through,” Benton said. “God has blessed me to have keys to get people out of jail, keys to get people off in treatment centers, give me keys to restore families, given me keys to be home owners.”
He says Black History Month means so much to him, and it stands for so much more than people may realize.
“It makes me more aware of what the struggle was for, how much blood was shed, how many people were beaten and disrespected and violated, all because they wanted to be a human being. They wanted to be looked at as a human being, not a human door,” Benton said. “It’s not based on what you have or what you do, but it’s who you are that’s inside of your essence. So we are just only just trying to carry the torch to make sure people can see what was paid for us to be where we are and who we are today.”
When asking Benton what is next for him, he says it is mentoring college students, and expressing how important it is to vote for proper leadership.
He also wants to create a space for homeless, ex-military, and those who first get out of federal prison to have a safe place to get back on their feet.
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