Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The X For Boys founder King Randall on the newsmakers line from Albany, Georgia to talk about his mission to help boys out of the juvenile justice system gain confidence in life through faith.
Cunningham: This is Ben Cunningham sitting in for Michael Patrick Leahy along with Gary Humble from Tennessee Stands trying to fill the big shoes of Michael Patrick Leahy this morning who’s away building his media empire and will be back tomorrow. We have got an extraordinarily special guest on the line.
I started seeing King Randall in videos on YouTube. And the first time I saw him, I thought to myself, this is too good to be true. And then I watched more videos and more videos. And I’m convinced that King Randall is a man for this time and this place and his extraordinary mission that he’s trying to accomplish in Albany, Georgia. King, good morning.
Randall: Good morning. How are you?
Cunningham: We’re doing great. And thank you so much for getting up early to be with us. We really do appreciate it.
Randall: Absolutely. I definitely appreciate being here.
Cunningham: Give us just a little bit of the back story of your mission. I’ve seen you talking about, and by the way, the website is thexforboys.org. You’re in Albany, Georgia. You started out it sounded like trying to give young men the skills that they need to begin the mission of becoming men in life. And now you are actually buying a school and starting a school. Tell us a little bit about how you started and where you are right now.
Randall: Oh, absolutely. Well, where we live right now in Albany, Georgia, and at one point, we were the fourth poor city in the United States. Our household income is very low. The poverty level is very high. Crime rates amongst our young men ages 17 to 25 are just extremely high and we don’t have any rehabilitative programs for juveniles that are leaving the juvenile justice system.
So I decided to start a program when I was 19 years old because I saw some classmates going to jail. I had classmates in jail for 30, 40 years. Classmates that have been killed, etcetera. And I’m just like nobody wants to work with the youth. So I decided to do it myself even though I was a teenager at the time, I still wanted to do something. So I started doing field trips with young men. I started teaching them how to work on cars.
I started doing workshops teaching them how to change oil and change breaks. Also working on houses, teaching them how to change toilets, ceiling fans, sheetrock, and flooring. You name it. I tried to teach everything that I could. And then the first summer of 2019, I did a summer camp out of my home. I had 20 young men get dropped off at my house every day and I taught them every day how to read.
We also learned how to grow food in my garden. I also taught them a different skill trade. How to cook, how to work on houses, how to do automotive repair, etcetera. So during that summer, I had 20 young men. And I’m so grateful for those parents that believed in what I was doing at the time and dropped their children off every day to me. And dealing with those children ages 11 to 17 I was noticing that 12 out of the 20 couldn’t read.
The other issue for me, I’m just like, why can’t you guys read? You guys are in school. You guys are passing through school. How exactly are you passing your work and you can’t read or write? That was the issue for me. And I told the boys before they asked, well Mr. King, why don’t you have a school for you to teach us all this stuff?
You should open your own school. And I was like, well, one day we’re going to buy us to school, and I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we’re going to make it happen. (Cunningham chuckles) So fast forward to 2020. COVID happened, and I had to kind of put everything on pause. And parents were still asking because I do stuff for the kids.
So what I decided to do, I was like, well, they’re going to have come live with me because I don’t know what’s going on with COVID. So I was like, I don’t know who they’re around when they’re going back home, etcetera. So I was just like, they’re going to have to come live with me. So I went and bought some bunk beds and I put them in my living room.
Cunningham and Humble: Wow.
Randall: So I had six children come live with me for the summertime and we did everything that summer. We worked on a farm. We did field trips. I still taught them the skilled trades, etcetera. And at one point during that summer and we did a sheetrock workshop. And I hadn’t been posting a lot of what I and the boys have been doing, but I posted that on Twitter and that made some rounds on Twitter, and a lot of people saw what we were doing. We got invited to the White House. That was some of the boys’ first trips.
I remind you, some of these kids had come from the juvenile justice system who had never been anywhere being and out of jail, but nobody had taken them on. So I started working with them, and we went to the White House, and a lot of people started supporting us. People started donating. We went building shopping and we found a building for our school. We actually reached out to our school system and they had a building that they were about to demolish. So we decided to get that from them. It’s 35,000 square feet, 25 classrooms.
Cunningham: You actually bought a school from the local school system?
Randall: Yes, Sir. Yes, Sir. And that was a beautiful thing for us. And the school has a lot of potential to develop even more in the future. And it’s right in a neighborhood where those children need us. And ever since we’ve been taking children from jail. I actually have custody of two of those children from the juvenile justice system, and they still live with me right now.
Humble: That’s the real deal right there.
Randall: Yeah. Ever since we started taking children from jail, we have a zero percent recidivism rate. Every child that’s coming to me from jail has never been back. These are statistics that I love to talk about because these children are actually changing their lives and they don’t want to live in the conditions that they’re living in. They just need somebody to be consistent with them.
Cunningham: Well, I can’t tell you, it’s just emotional for me, frankly, to hear everything that you’re doing, I have contributed. I’ve gone to thexforboys.org website and I’ve contributed to your organization.
Randall: Thank you.
Cunningham: My son has contributed, and I encourage anybody who’s listening to help you in your mission.
Randall: I appreciate you guys so much.
Cunningham: And your faith obviously plays a big role here. You quote Genesis on your website. Tell us what role your faith plays and how you’re trying to install these values in these young men?
Randall: Absolutely. Well, one of our biggest quotes, biggest hashtags is #BigBoyFaith. One day, I made a lot of videos talking about what we were doing. I said big boy faith on the video. I was like, we got to have some big boy faith, and people were like, you should put that on the shirt. So that’s something that we believe in. Believing in ourselves and having faith in God and what we’re trying to do because he’s making so much happening for us.
And with that being said, we’ve had so much going in between all of that happened. I was broke at one point to a point where I wasn’t able to just take care of the boys. So we were eating noodles and eating five-dollar Hot and Ready pizzas and stuff and sandwiches. But I was still trying to make it happen for them. And we had plenty of times where we stuck on the side of the road. And I didn’t know how I was going to pay the light bill.
I was calling my mom, asking if she could help me feed the boys and stuff just trying to make it work. But I did what I had to do at the time when I knew God was going to make something happen. I just kept telling the boys, somebody’s going to see what you guys are doing one day. We’ve been doing this for about a year and a half, two years. Now somebody’s going to see us.
I said it’s only a matter of time before everything takes off because what we’re doing is special. And I believe we can touch so many young men in our community and around the nation. Faith has played a big part in what we’ve been doing because I and the boys have to believe in what we’re doing. And also giving. I give as much as I can, regardless if I even have anything I try to give. And that’s how we get back so much.
I give a lot of the time of my love and attention and everything to what I’m trying to do. And now it’s not even light work. I do this full-time, and I love what I do. And I love working with the children. It’s just beautiful. But our faith is a big portion of what we do because I wear that shirt every day. And the only shirt I ever wear is my Big Boy Faith shirt.
I have about 20 of the same shirt. They all say Big Boy Faith. And I wear them every day. Like every day you’re not going to not see me with my big boy faith shirt all because I believe in it so much because people have to believe in themselves and what they’re trying to do. And if you believe in it, things will happen.
Humble: I just want to say I’m looking at your site right now at The X Boys and there’s this picture of you and you’re standing with all of these young men. They’re in suit and tie. Their arms are down firm. And one thing I notice, I’m looking at these faces, and I just see a sense of confidence. These young men have confidence. And I’m a dad. I’ve got three little boys. And I know for young men, the number one thing that they need is confidence. Just tell us real quick about that.
Randall: Absolutely. Yes. For the boys, a lot of them had never worn a suit before. And most people in our community kind of like pick on suits at school. You only were a suit to church and stuff. But when I got them their suits and when they were able to all wear them and stuff like that just to watch how different they walked and how they thought they look so clean and look so good. It was beautiful to see. And I was telling them I was like, man, ain’t nothing wrong with suits. If you asked any of my classmates and my old teachers, I wore a suit to school every day in 11th and 12th grade. I had a briefcase and a suit every day. (Cunningham laughs)
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.