Untold stories of Black men

Aspiring chef Courtney Kerr shares his tale of trials

Ashley Montgomery | 8/21/2014, noon

Days after the devastating news traveled around the nation that Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old male was gunned by Darren Wilson, a seven-year police officer, in a suburb of Ferguson, Mo., communities protested with riots to express their frustrations of countless Black men dying by the same hands that were meant to protect them.

The harsh reality of this happening to any young Black or brown male is a scary thought, according to Courtney Kerr, a 19-year-old Miami native who is working on a degree in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University.

“I am saddened by the demise of so many young Black lives lost in recent years,” he said.

Michael Brown was set to begin college on the Monday after he was killed.

Young men like Kerr who understand the value of education work hard every day to succeed in light of nation-wide recent police killings.

“I feel like Black men are seen as inferior to other races because many of us aren’t able to afford education because of our social class,” Kerr said. “I think it’s sad that Michael will never be able to experience college because his life was taken away by someone that had no clue who he was and what his goals were.”

However, like many outspoken Blacks around the nation, Kerr says he is here to prove himself by any means necessary.

During the summer when most young men are enjoying fun under the sun, Kerr instead sold salads to businesses in Liberty City from June to September to reach his goal of $1,500 to pay for his tuition.

“I know the odds that are against me as a Black man in America and I am going to do whatever it takes to become successful,” Kerr said.

Although he did not reach his target goal prior to his first semester, he says he will not let that discourage him.

“I plan to sell salads again next summer as well as other items to help me stay in school,” he said.

Kerr's tuition totals more than $27,000. He receives a scholarship and some financial aid, but it does not cover the entire cost of tuition.

Grants and loans are major forms of federal financial aid for degree-seeking undergraduate students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Kerr has hopes of one day becoming a chef at the White House.