By: Theresa Mancuso

When you hear the acronym UPS and the name James Brown most of us think of the United Parcel Service and the Godfather of Soul but this is not about either. This is about Utican, James Brown, a man with a vision.  To James, UPS means Utica Producing Success.  This is more than a motto but rather it is the beginning of a dream that he is determined to make a reality by fighting to make Utica, a City of Virtue.

James Brown grew up in Utica, the son of Ann and Tender Brown. He has a love for his city because he remembers when there was a sense of community, safety, and life. His parents taught him to be polite and give back by volunteering his time, thereby fostering a spirit of love.
Sadly, at 14 years old, after the separation of his parents, James’ mother suffered a stroke and then lost her job with the State, leaving the family in need of help. Uncertain of the road ahead or how to fix it, God had a plan and placed two pivotal people in James’ life, Salah Salem and Ivy King.

Salah, the father of a childhood friend, stepped in to help and become a mentor to James. Acting out of kindness, Salah took James and his sister, Iesha to Crouse Memorial Hospital in the middle of the night to be with their ailing mother when no one else would. Salah also gave James a job in his store so that James could help his mother with costs in the home.Throughout the years they have built a strongly bonded relationship. James stated he views Salah as a second father.Through Salah’s example, James came to understood what the meanings of the words man, strength, respect, and kindness are. It also made him realize that we need to reach out to each other and help lift each other when we are down.Today James is looking to make a difference in his community by doing the same.

Throughout the years they have built a strongly bonded relationship. James stated he views Salah as a second father.Through Salah’s example, James came to understand the meanings of the words man, strength, respect, and kindness. It also made him realize that we need to reach out to each other and help lift each other when we are down.Today James is looking to make a difference in his community by doing the same.

Ivy King was a listening ear according to James. She always directed him with motherly wisdom.Ivy too had an important hand to play in why James wants to reach into our broken community and help put it back together. Blessed by her repeated advice to “stay out of trouble,” James has realized that jail is not a “rite of passage” for young African American men.  In fact, it is just the opposite, “Jail is an abyss that swallows our people up whole, where many are left to die,” he says.Today James works as a direct care

Today James works as a direct care aide at the DDSO in Rome for the State of NY and the father of three. The words Ivy spoke repeatedly to James became indelibly marked in his heart and he now wants to pass that wisdom to his own children, especially his son.James’ life coaches and examples have given him a reason to fight for a better future. Hoping to make a difference in the community that helped shape him, James is reaching out to all of the Uticans who want the same for their community.

On August 25th, James, along with his partners Brother Muhammad and Brother Brian from “Mohammad Barber Shop” will be hosting the First Annual Barber Battle.This event will be held at the Cornerstone Community Church at 500 Plant St. Utica, NY run by Pastor Mike.  The event is a skills completion for local barbers with the winner taking home the title of Barber of the Year, a trophy and a grand prize of $500.00. The second prize wins a trophy and a pair of clippers and third prize a skilled barber trophy. The event will have venders and feature DJ Myles walker.

A portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase all needed school supplies for two community children. This will be from pencils, pens, and notebooks, to coat, clothing and shoes. James is asking that the community come out and support; not only the event but the businesses and the kids it will help get through school year a little easier.“This event will give people an opportunity to come out and reacquaint themselves with the community and each other,” says James. His motive and goal here is to remind people that it “takes a community to not only raise a child but to be a community.”

“My mission is to help restore Utica to the great place it once was. To give a place for kids to go, and like Ivy says, “Stay out of trouble.
“I would like to see businesses thrive and hey maybe, even one day I will become Mayor. Why not?”  “Whatever my future brings it will start with my first event.  I realize that it will be a long road with a lot of work but I am willing to do it because I want to make a difference.
For further details regarding the event or if you would like to work with James in helping to do good work within the community you can reach him on his cellphone at 315 269-0997 or email jimmy2steps@yahoo.com.

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