Personality: Demetrius W. Frazier

Spotlight on co-founder and president of Black Men Read

7/2/2020, 6 p.m.
In the wake of the murder of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony, Minn., police officer in 2016, Demetrius W. ...

The discussion may require a significant adjustment in their approach, Mr. Frazier says, but one necessary to help channel a positive path toward change.

“I think if we can support the young people and all the activism and the change they’re trying to invoke, I think we can strengthen our community a lot better,” Mr. Frazier says. “I think this is a good environment for doing so. I think it’s the right time.”

Meet an advocate for empowerment through the written word and this week’s Personality, Demetrius W. Frazier:

Occupation: Director of continuous improvement at Kaiser Aluminum.

What I do: I identify operational and internal process inefficiencies in order to facilitate and implement sustained improvement across the organization. I use established methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean and ADKAR change management to name a few.

No. 1 volunteer position: Co-founder and president of Black Men Read.

Date and place of birth: May 1977 in Queens, N.Y.

Current residence: Chesterfield County.

Education: Bachelor’s in marketing, Virginia Union University, 1999, and MBA with a focus in strategic leadership, University of Richmond, 2006.

Family: Wife, Celena Smith Frazier, and three children, Brandon, 19; Ethan, 17; and Deinna, a newborn.

When Black Men Read was founded: Black Men Read was founded as a book club in July 2018 and established as a 501(c)(3) in September 2018.

How I came up with the idea: After seeing on video the horrific murder of Philando Castile, I, along with co-founder Lance Adams, was searching for answers to painful questions about how tragedies like these happen. We decided to solicit connection with fellow Black men and center the conversation around literature that addressed these issues.

What motivated me: I am an optimist by nature and I knew the answers were out there. I knew then and know now that the only way the Black community can move higher through these painful issues is to roll up our sleeves, get organized and be vigilant in the fight for justice and prosperity. Reading is just one of the many issues that needs to be tackled.

Our mission: To ignite and empower communities of color by inspiring literacy. Through mentorship and advocacy, we aim to improve educational outcomes and foster a lifelong love of reading with a focus on Black men and boys.

Our top goal: To eradicate illiteracy in the Black community.

Our organization is needed because: Black males play a specific role in the Black community. A focus on this group will not only reduce the literacy gap but will yield positive results in the Black family, community economics and will help solidify generational progress.

What Black Men Read has been able to accomplish: We have supported three Henrico County high schools with a combined 2,500-plus students. We have participated or organized local programs such as reading roundtables, Black History Month celebrations, Ratcliffe Reads Day, Virginia Reads One Book, and much more at schools and public libraries across Henrico, Chesterfield and Richmond. We have donated more than 500 books.