Pittsburgh pastor Grayson honored by Obama as one of Champions of Change
The Rev. Glenn Garrett Grayson says he is humbled to be honored by the White House but admits that the accolades come at a price no parent ever wants to pay.
“It's bittersweet and very overwhelming,” said Grayson, one of nine grassroots leaders who will be honored on Thursday as part of President Obama's Champions of Change program for taking critical steps to reduce gun violence in their communities.
Grayson, 54, pastor of Wesley Center A.M.E. Zion Church in the Hill District, founded the Center that C.A.R.E.S. (Children/Adults Recreational and Educational Services), an after-school tutorial and enrichment program, in 2000.
Ten years later, his son, Jeron Xavier Grayson, 18, a student at Hampton University in Virginia, was shot and killed while visiting friends at a house party near California University of Pennsylvania.
“Part of me realizes I was doing this type of work before his death, but I will say it took it to another level,” Grayson said Monday once the White House announced that he and the others will be honored in an event that will be live-streamed at 10 a.m. Thursday on the White House's website, www.whitehouse.gov/live.
“My son's memory drives me,” said Grayson a few hours before receiving — along with Buhl Foundation President Frederick W. Thieman and Tim Stevens, founder of the Black Political Empowerment Project — the Good Government Award from the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh.
“When my son came home from school the day he died, he said to me, ‘Dad, I know what I want to do. I want to take the C.A.R.E.S. Center and make it global.' I didn't really understand the statement when he made it, but now I think it was so profound,” Grayson said.
The Jeron Xavier Grayson Community Center, which will offer programs to help young people avoid gangs and gun violence, is scheduled open this summer on Enoch Street in the Crawford-Roberts area of the Hill District.
“In spite of my loss, the pieces are coming together to save other people,” Grayson said.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or email@example.com.
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