For our “What’s Next” series, the Spy caught up with Bayside HOYAS President and BlackUnion of Kent County Chairman John Queen to discuss the September 8 Town Council meeting’s approval of Ward 3 Council Member Ellsworth Tolliver’s Resolution and the Mayor Chris Cerino’s 16 month plan to address racial inequality in Chestertown.
Queen, who has long championed the empowerment of at-risk Black youths in Kent County, doesn’t mince words when it comes to evaluating how inequality issues are being addressed. He points out that real success will be found in the Black community and leadership itself rather than goals promoted solely by the white establishment.
“Keep in mind right now this racial injustice is because no one goes into the Black community…how many times has anyone gone into the Black community to find out more about disenfranchised voters?” he says.
But, Cerino’s 16-month plan exemplifies a mutual engagement with the Black community, Queen feels, and the fact that Mayor reached out to Black leadership during the initiative’s planning sets the right tone to moving forward.
Queen does not feel that Council Member Tolliver’s resolution met the same level of Black engagement during its formation.
Both Bayside HOYAs and the BlackUnion of Kent County are community action initiatives providing action-oriented answers to “ensure that all Blacks are valued and thrive economically and culturally by creating policies, programs, and projects.”
Bayside Hoyas (Helping Our Youth Achieve Success) was founded in 2013 by Queen, his brother Pierre and childhood friend Paul Tue III to provide options for Black county youths and to fill the void experienced by impoverished Kent youth lack of activities and positive role models. Co-founder Paul Tue has since moved to co-found the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice.
The Black Union of Kent County’s mission is “designed to take an in-depth look into five major issues that plague the Black Community; police genocide, miseducation, gentrification, access to wealth and mass incarceration,” and Queen feels that the 16-month plan will begin to address these fundamental issues.
In 2021, Queen expects to launch “The Smallest County,” a tourism company specializing in arts and culture, food and entertainment, african American tours, and educational tours.