The Dayton Young Black Professionals (DYBP) recently celebrated its first anniversary and unveiled its new initiative, “7 Pillars of Excellence,” during a reception at Central State University-Dayton on Saturday.
The pillars consist of topics curated from community needs:
Arts and culture
Politics and social justice
Education and workforce
Health and wellness
Each pillar will have a committee leader, and members can sign up to work on specific projects.
The event, which boasted about 150 people, opened with a prayer from Pastor Peter Matthews from the historic McKinley United Methodist Church.
“You are apart of the generation that survived the worst of the worst, and you’re still here. You survived the recession, and you’re still here for a reason. Y'all are the whispers of dreams coming to fruition by our ancestors on plantations. I just want to thank y'all for doing the tedious groundwork, having the vision and seeing it through,” said Matthews.
Dana Kirksey, owner of Picture Perfect Paint Parties, gave encouragement in the form of spoken word. She talked about the organization’s longevity and praised Daj’za Demmings, DYBP founder and president, and other members for their commitment.
“Daj’za has had meetings at my paint store, and when we talked, it rejuvenated me,” Kirksey lauded. “I just turned 50, and these are some of the most energetic, engaging and genuine groups of young people I’ve met. I fully trust them to lead the youth and city of Dayton.
Kirksey suggested that it’s time for a new wave of generational leadership.
“They’ve taught others and are constantly teaching me new things. I encourage the older generation of leaders to listen to the millenials and make way for the new generation of change," she said.
Demmings gave reflections on the event and discussed the organization’s accomplishments to date. “If you had told me a year ago that my life would be like this, and my heart would be as fulfilled as it is, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what DYBP has done without the help of my amazing team. I want to stress how proud I am of and how much I love the community. Thank you for your support in all of our endeavors because it takes a village — from sponsoring students to see the new Lion King movie, to tornado relief, to manicures and haircuts at the after school program — it’s all for the city and the people in it,” said Demmings.
Sean Walton, a Dayton advocate and longtime community leader, gave a robust and comical speech about meeting and interacting with DYBP while also highlighting the organization’s impact.
“The first time I had the privilege of meeting Daj’za was at the after school program in Hilltop,” said Walton. “I was wondering if she would come back and work from week to week, and she did. They’ve accomplished so much in their one year, and I see their longevity. They’re in it for the long haul.”
Walton also delivered an important message about understanding the importance of collaboration versus ego.
“This is the first time I’ve seen an organization prioritize the city’s needs and place its ego to the side. Remember: the handle of a microphone is short and there’s not enough room for everyone to hold the microphone, yet everyone does. There’s plenty of room on a long-handled shovel for everyone to help dig in by giving money, time or encouraging these young people. Leave the mic and grab the shovel," remarked Walton.
Demmings left the audience with a quote summarizing DYBP's purpose and left a call to action for audience members.
“Shirley Chisholm said that you don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas,” she said. “That’s what we do, and I challenge everyone to do the same.”