Young political leader on the rise
By Raina L. Baker
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — “In order to be a good politician, you have to be a good public (servant). You’re not there to serve yourself,” says 21-year-old Collin Mays, a rising senior at Western Michigan University and mounting political figure.
This UFC and hockey fan currently serves as the president of the College Democrats at Western Michigan University and was formerly the political affairs chairman for the Western Student Association. He is the first African American to hold both of these positions, which he feels is great representation for Black people and minorities in general.
Mays says he’s been interested in politics since he was young. “The youth, the young people, should be given a chance to be heard,” Mays says. Among his accomplishments and political interests, he is most passionate about youth involvement and helping young people to find their passion, stimulating the economy and jobs.
At 21, Mays says he barely has any free time but the sacrifice is necessary. “I don’t want to wake up and be that 30-year-old asking myself what I’ve done for the last 10 years of my life to make a difference.”
A graduate of West Bloomfield High School, Mays not only went to pursue higher education at Western Michigan but to embark on a journey for new political endeavors. Mays started the first Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) college chapter in the nation. He says he respects other political entities but the SCLC has been very sustainable and fundamental for political improvement. A member of Hartford Baptist Church in Detroit, Mays says he believes politics have a place in spiritual institutions and recognizes Martin Luther King, Jr. for being a spiritual and political figure.
Mays serves as a legislative assistant to State Sen. Bert Johnson, is a consultant for the Young Men in Transition male mentoring group and spends at least three to four hours a week preparing for “Life in the D” talk radio program on 1200 AM at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. He is the co-host of the show.
Mays says he starts preparing for a regular day at 6 a.m. by reading the Wall Street Journal and tuning into news. “You always need to know what’s going on before you leave the house.” He encourages youth especially to be informed and to participate.
When it comes to apathy, Mays says “the biggest thing is hope. You have to give people a reason to believe what you’re saying.”
Mays says he wants to help others find their political voice.
“Taking (away) the voice and the right of the people in having a say in things is a dictatorship,” Mays said. “For example, we’ve seen in the past that calling in an emergency manager doesn’t necessarily contribute to fixing things. Taking the voice of the people away in exchange for an emergency manager lacks the answer.”
Not only is the voice of the youth going unheard by the government, but Mays feels the youth are not heard by the elders of the community. “There’s a strong disconnect between the elders and the youth of today. I remember my parents telling me that back in the day you would go to school and then you would come home and get your reason lesson, your lesson in life. We need more mentors, not slaps in the face.” We also need young people to embrace our elders, says Mays, who supports stronger community networks.
Expect a book from Collin Mays at the end of the summer or early this fall on networking. The current working title of his book is “How to turn your American Dream into Reality: The Guide to becoming the Ultimate Networker while in College,” to be published by Gold Leaf Press.
Also look for Mays going door to door throughout the community, informing the public and making a difference.
Raina L. Baker is a journalism student at Howard University and will enter into her senior year in the fall. She is interning with the Michigan Citizen for the summer. Raina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org