Eleven young men were inducted into the Beautillion Militaire on Jan. 26.
BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – Friendship Missionary Baptist Church opened its doors to welcome this year’s Beautillion Militaire induction ceremony, this time honoring its Gamma class.
Each year high school males in their junior and senior years are chosen for a program that will transition them successfully from high school to post-secondary education and help them become productive young adults. Students are mentored in education, personal development and primed for leadership roles.
The St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. wasted no time in introducing the 11 new members from Gibbs, St. Petersburg, Lakewood, and Boca Ciega High School as they recited the pledge to stay true to the principles of the Militaire.
“This is wonderful to see these young, African-American males brought forth,” said Rev. Frank Peterman of The Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church.
He spoke to the youth about their future and the need to hold their heads up high as they embark on new experiences.
“Your bloodline is powerful; it’s brilliant, it’s strong, and I would urge that you stand on the shoulders of the greats who have gone on before you and continue to do great things moving forward.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is known for its contributions to the community and guiding the youth as they move from one stage of their lives to the next.
“It signals a young man coming of age,” said soror Kathy Kason.
She spoke on the history of the program and hailed the group’s commitment to providing an atmosphere where a young man can feel comfortable in the transformation process and find confidence, inter-wisdom, self-love and an overall positive connection to the community and brotherhood.
The program began in 2016 with 27 students inducted into the first-ever Beautillion Militaire Gentlemen’s Institute. The Beautillion is held every two years, and 2018 saw 25 ambitious men inducted to the Beta class.
With the arrival of 2020, the Gamma class consists of 11 young men who will gain direction in character development, the enhancement of lifelong knowledge, skills and abilities.
Their experience will prepare them to be agents of change, productive citizens in their communities and hold the power of leadership beyond measure.
Inductees were treated to the inspirational words of Rev. Shawn Thomas, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. A St. Petersburg native, Rev. Thomas earned a Master of Arts degree in Divinity from Morehouse School of Religion and is currently a doctoral candidate.
When he’s not inspiring change working with the youth, he is touching the lives of many as an adjunct professor of World Religion at St. Petersburg College. Also, he serves the State of Florida as a house speaker appointee on the Council for the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
Rev. Thomas shared his thoughts on the journey of life with attendees, highlighting that issues will always arise along the way, but the real test is to be a master of the road you’re on and to make it to your final destination.
“Wherever it is that you are going, whatever purpose you feel you have, you can make that happen if you just stay on the road and keep moving forward,” he said.
Thomas compared the journey of life to an extended road trip where potholes are plentiful, waiting to take you by surprise and delay you from reaching your goal. He emphasized that potholes represent things that other people create in your life that you now have overcome.
“Bends and turns were next. These are times where you have to slow down, so you don’t wreck,” Rev. Thomas explained. “These aren’t stops, just times when you slow down because if you keep going at that pace, that speed, you’ll wreck your life.”
At times the slowdown is needed to enjoy the journey, where you are and what is happening in life. Savoring the good times is a positive that Thomas encourages everyone to focus on.
Other times, slowing down helps one lookout for life’s speed traps. These are schemes and situations specifically designed to stop forward progress. Things that have purposefully been set up to halt one’s productive pace.
“Life is not a 100-yard dash, but it’s a marathon,” he said.
Thomas believes nothing, not even the traps of life, should be allowed to keep you from moving forward.
“In the journey of life that you are running, you are only running it against yourself. No one else. You can’t compare your journey to anyone else’s journey. It’s your journey.”
Inductees were given direction on how to stick to their life plan. By envisioning what you want and taking the time to not only write them down but to place them in such a place as to where they can be seen clearly every day. Only then can they hope to stick to their plan.
Key members of the community read the four principles of the Beautillion. LaShante Keys delivered the meaning of Ubora, which equates to excellence in academia, sports, the arts, and the desires of the heart.
Dr. Christopher Warren was tasked with Tabia, which is Swahili for character.
The afternoon ended with the induction ceremony, where the four principals of the Beautillion were read. The principals, derived from Swahili terms, were delivered by LaShante Keys (Ubora = Excellence) Dr. Christopher Warren (Tabia = Character), Corey Givens, Jr. (Ukuaji = Growth) and Javan Turner (Umoja = Unity).
On May 31 at the James Museum downtown, the beaux will be presented to society at the third biennial Beautillion Militaire Scholarship Gala. The event will include dinner and entertainment by the beaux, including a military-style drill.