Black Manhood: A conversation with Steve Harvey

By News | Last updated: Jul 31, 2014 - 4:09:46 PM

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Steve Harvey with Final Call contributor Jihad Hassan Muhammad.

Steve Harvey, the Daytime Emmy nominated host, comedian, top syndicated radio personality and best-selling author, came back to his Dallas ranch for his 6th annual Father’s Day Weekend. He hosted over 100 teenage boys without fathers at his yearly Mentoring Program Camp for Young Men. During this time Mr. Harvey granted Jihad Hassan Muhammad, a Final Call contributor, an exclusive One on One interview.

Steve Harvey (SH): The Final Call.

Jihad Muhammad (FCN): Yes sir, the one and only.

SH: Minister Louis Farrakhan, that’s my brother right there, I love the Minister. I love what he do.

FCN: Yes sir, most definitely. As a child growing up in Cleveland, did you ever imagine you would be in this type of position to make a difference in the lives of young men?


SH:  No! Absolutely not! This wasn’t my mission. My dream was to be one of the premier stand ups (comedians) in the country. That’s all I ever asked God for. Now his plan for me was much greater. My plan was to tell jokes until I was 68, then I was going to retire. I didn’t see myself with a boy’s camp or none of this. So that just goes to show you; God’s plan is always better than yours.

FCN: You seem to be the hardest working man in the business right now—television, radio, movies. With everything you have going on right now, do you feel like it’s necessary that you do  work in the community to take you to the next level?

SH:  Well, this is one of the most important works I do. I think God put me in the position to do all of those other things to do this.  I have taken the fame he bestowed upon me, and I use it in a way that would be beneficial to some young men who otherwise may not get opportunities to sit with some positive men who can show them what manhood is really about.

I am grateful for the opportunity myself. This camp is not just for boys, but it’s for me too. It helps me be better. It helps me try harder. It helps me work harder, because I know I got so many cats counting on me. If I don’t come up with the money, what are these 120 boys going do? I come out here every year and say I’m not going to spend this kind of money next year and I end up spending more than I did last year.

Then I come out here. I meet some kids and I fall in love with them. I hear their stories. It’s way more than their father (being) missing. It is some stories out here, some real situations. I got a kid, his father died last night. We got him in grief counseling. We more than mentor. It’s a lot of stories out here. I got a mother out here with her son. They’re homeless. So when they finish this week, they don’t have nowhere to go. I got a lady that left work to save her son, bringing him down here. She got permission. But too many consecutive days missing, they fired her. If they don’t care about our boys, we got to. And this is our job anyway; this is our responsibility, especially in our community. The government is not coming. It’s not their job; they are not going to save us.

FCN: You talked about accepting responsibility. They’re a lot of entertainers, athletes, who have come to this camp to help. What do you have to say to those who haven’t and could do something to help the community?

SH: I don’t really look at it like that. Guys tell me all the time, “Steve you doing some great work. If I can be of any assistance call me.” Well, what I got to do to be calling you? You know we over here. You got a newspaper. You don’t see the problem? You don’t see them murders going on in Chicago? You don’t see what’s going on here in South Dallas? You not familiar with the gang problem in L.A., the Crips and the Bloods, now in New York? Why I got to call you? You already know what’s happening. So if you want to help, here we are. I don’t make phone calls. I refuse to do that. I don’t have time. I could be talking to one of these boys instead of calling a celebrity.

The ones that do come, I appreciate them. The ones that don’t, I ain’t mad at them, ’cause I have never been turned down by a celebrity because I don’t ask. A lot of them have foundations and programs; but the ones who don’t, they got to come out ’cause we got to save these boys. We got to save our sons. It is not an option.

FCN:  Give an example of someone who just by seeing your example, said “I will be there, I want to help.”

SH: I get that all the time. It’s a ball player (who) came out here from the Seattle Seahawks that I just met today. I got a frat brother. He came out. I got another frat brother born on the same day as me who owns six Mooyah Burgers around town. He came out here yesterday and fed all of the kids for free. I didn’t ask him. He said, “I got this.” When I do get the call, I open up my door. I mean come on, man. It’s plenty to do. We need two things out here. We need more men and we need more money and that’s all to it. I don’t need another lady out here to do nothing. What else do we want them to do? They paying all the bills. They working. This is up to us now. All I need is men and money. Men and money, and if you ain’t got no money, you still a man. I go to these churches and ask for volunteers. In front of their pastor, they raise their hands. Then on show day, I can’t find them. I quit going down there to them. The men that come from the mosque, the men that come from the churches, the men that come from the league that’s who I work with. They all welcome. I accept everything. This ain’t no religious camp. My faith ain’t got to match up with yours. It’s just one God. Call him what you want to call him. …

FCN: I know you say women have done enough. That woman who has her son who needs help now, what advice do you have for her?

SH: She has to find a suitable male role model. There is no substitute for a male role model. It’s got to be an uncle, a cousin, a grandfather, a member at the mosque, a member at the church, ’cause I don’t care what you do, you can turn your boy into a good citizen, polite, a good student, God fearing. You can turn him into all of that. But what you cannot turn him into is a man. So how can a woman teach a boy how to be a man? That’s what wrong with our society today. It ain’t enough men teaching boys to be men. So now they are forming their own ideas about it.

Now, because our videos are so sick with violence, they are getting inundated with violent thoughts. In the video game when you get killed, you get another life and wake up with more energy. So they shoot and kill a person in the video game. They don’t understand the finality of that. Then they may go shoot a friend, shoot their enemy in real life. But in none of the video games do you go to prison for murder. Then we allow the lyrics of our music to inundate the minds of our youth. We allow a lot of this. It’s my generation’s fault anyway. If we had taught some of the rappers what manhood really was and pulled their coat and disallowed some of that gangster thing, some of this wouldn’t be happening today. So now those of us who know better, we got to teach better.  That’s what I feel it really is. …I got boys who came here and changed their lives.  I got a boy who was beating his mama. She would come home and put dead bolt locks on the door to keep him out, because, if she comes in and he’s taking money out of her purse, he would hit her. I had him out here last year. He was failing every course. We been tracking him and now he is a B student. His mother sends us notes all the time saying, “I can’t believe my son is the most polite courageous boy now.” She cries tears of joy all the time. So the program works. …

FCN: Thank you.