Money was not his driving force - In fact, the success of the business simply stemmed from a direct result of the passion, the time, and the energy that was devoted to changing the lives directly and indirectly through entrepreneurship, building relationships, and fashion. My mother always told me, "Have a job you love and you will never work a day in your life".
That's IT - That is my family's blueprint. The LEGACY continues…
Part II. Be the Change You Want To See In The World
While I was born in New York, my family moved to Fayetteville, GA when I was in elementary school. My parents were major influences in my life especially when it came to appreciating black art in music, fashion, entertainment, and many other aspects that are major factors that make up "the culture".
They always pushed me to think critically in subjects regarding black culture that were never included in school curriculum. Our house was filled with Kadir Nelson paintings, Langston Hughes poetry, Black Art coffee table books, and boxes of CDs of classic music and movies. Even at an early age, my parents ensured that I was continuing my knowledge on the roots of my culture, which taught me the importance of self love. As first generation college students, my parents understood that raising black kids in America is arguably one of the hardest things to do, and they did everything they could to ensure they were feeding my brain with nutrients of BLACK substance that school systems could not and do not feed students. These lessons and artistic influences provided me hope at the age of 11 when my school teacher told me that the chances of me even getting a college education were slim.
Then high school came and my life changed forever when I left home for boarding school. The McCallie School was an all boys college-preparatory school located in Chattanooga, TN. At the age of 12, I left my parents and lived on my own in a city where I met more black people by visiting local food kitchens than in the classroom. I met a lot of friends and teachers, who to this day I consider family. However, the reality is that this school, this city, and new culture were not accustomed to the outspoken black kid.
Unbeknownst to myself or even the school, I was there to push the envelope. I pushed the way people thought of black people, black students and black culture, in an environment that was oblivious to the likes of such. Pushing the envelope came full circle my junior year. I led a 30+ student sit-in protest in the school cafeteria on the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During the past two years, I made every effort to bring awareness of MLK day needing to be a day "off for change" rather than a regular school day. In the school's history, MLK Day was just another regular school day. However, my voice went unheard until that day of quiet protest. Long story short.... Since January 2017, the year after my protest, guess which entire student body participates in a full day of service to the entire Chattanooga community every MLK Day?... Damn right.
Shout out to my parents for believing in me and teaching me to always ALWAYS stand up for myself and others while believing in what's true and right. The McCallie experience taught me how to push boundaries even when it's uncomfortable.
Part IV. LHP and New Beginnings
The energy my father put behind his business gave me drive and a sense of purpose. All of these experiences throughout my life have been used as tools for me to craft a better idea of how I can continue the character, richness, and standard of how Murray men carry themselves. Due to my father's health in the year of 2019, it changed the dynamic and momentum of the brand as his health was our family's first priority. In the midst of this year, I knew that I could not give up on the "American Dream" that my late grandfather came to this country to fight for.
It was in these defining moments of my life, I realized it was MY TIME. "It was going to be my "little" thing because I knew that I couldn't be sidelined, sidetracked or sidestepped or put in a damn corner and tucked away or turned to wait another day or moment, because this was MY TIME."
And thus, a new dream was formed, built, and launched - LEGACY HISTORY PRIDE.
Since the age of 12, I knew the power and influence that HBCUs have always had on American Culture and I am working toward creating a brand that is deeper than fashion, more meaningful than clothes; I am here to create a movement.
Since the launch of LHP in December 2019 my team and I have been able to engage over 30,000 people in the Legacy, History and Pride of our culture.
LHP is my American dream that began with my Caribbean grandfather who took a risk and decided to move his family to New York, where his kids and grandkids could enjoy the fruits of what life offered. To my grandfather, Ortner Von Murray, may you continue to Rest in Peace with a smile on your face. PopPop, we love you. We Miss You. Not a day goes by where I don't think of you and everything you have done to get the family where we are now.
To my pops, Gerard, Thank You for believing in me and trusting in me with everything I do. I appreciate you for not always pampering me in this industry or in life, as you never have. You have allowed me to scrape my knee and bump my head in a way that I can grow not only as a business person, but especially as a young man.
I saved the best for last but Thank You mom, Carol. While I always talk about my grandfather and my dad in these stories, YOU have always been the glue to it all. You work tirelessly, consistently, and quietly and your efforts are never unheard. Everyone can know the players on the court but not everyone knows the person who is running sh*t in the back office of the organization. How you carry yourself as a woman, a businesswoman, a mother, and a wife is unmatched. You taught me how to make the impossible possible and NONE of this would be possible without you. The men of the family always have big dreams, but you are always the force behind us to push us when our knees start shaking and we want to stop. You've given me the world and I am doing everything in my power to give it back and then some more. A true women of Delta Sigma Theta.
To my sister, Tayler. I love you. THE GREATEST big sister ever and the greatest Howard Bison I know. You asked mom and dad for me 21 years ago and now you are stuck with me for a lifetime! LOL.
To my grandmother, Jocelyn, who is also one of the strongest women I know. You've given when you had little to give, and when you had it all, you never kept it for yourself. I love you.
Big shout out to the rest of my extended family. My village is no village to mess with. Love y'all to the moon and back.
To my friends I grew up with in Fayetteville. The brothers I met at boarding school. The family I made at Howard University. Howard University Class of 2016 (my sister's class) and Howard University Class of 2020 who took me under their wing when I had no idea what I was doing when I first arrived at Howard. To all my people at HU and the people I met because of The Mecca. AND BIG SHOUTOUT TO HOWARD CLASS OF 2021. WE ARE ALMOST AT THE FINISH LINE!!!!!!!
To Mr. Cook, who was my junior year high school English teacher. One of the first professors in my LIFE who I felt believed in me and continues to reach out to make sure I am tapping into my full potential. Without him, I would not have found my passion for writing and storytelling. Thank you.
TO THE CUSTOMERS. YOU ALL ARE HELPING ME KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE. TOGETHER WE CAN DO ANYTHING.
Thank you for the birthday wishes. 21 years in. A lifetime to go…
And no matter what…. THE LEGACY CONTINUES!