Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here am I. Send Me.”
-Isaiah Chapter 6, verse 8
MEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION
has been awarded with its third “Award for Community Service” by
The Galilee Community Development Corporation at their GALA
which featured Angela Winbush
These are the words that sparked a fire in a young man’s heart, which, in turn, moved others toward positive outcomes that couldn’t have been imagined, and hasn’t stopped yet.
When asked, Demitri Conte Kornegay couldn’t remember where or when he first heard those words, but he’s been living them since his youth.
For as long as anyone who has known him can remember, Demitri, or Meti (pronounced MEE-TEE) by his close friends, has been the go-to guy whenever something important was on the line. Some would suggest it began when he ran the winning touchdowns two weeks in a row in two separate senior high school championship games. Others would claim it was his willingness to take on jobs others would shy away from and bring about successful conclusions, such as his volunteer work as a tutor to children in crowded elementary schools for the Washington Urban League's "Operation Rescue" or the City of Richmond's campaign to Stamp out Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
His parents, Elisha and Emma Kornegay, had migrated North from Jones County, North Carolina, when Demitri was born in Washington, D.C. Demitri and his siblings were sent back to Jones County every summer until they were 13. His mother worked as an employee in the federal government's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity while his father was a police officer with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. His uncles, James and Lewis, were star athletes in high school and college and they and the many other positive male role models he had in his life, influenced him greatly.
Despite the fact some of his elementary school teachers believed he was simply not bright or light enough (Colorism) to do the more challenging work (remember this was the early sixties), Demitri was reared by his mother to always do his best no matter what it was, and by his father to "speak the king's English." Emma Kornegay would never accept, "I ain't got no homework" for an answer and insisted her children turn off the television and devote their school evenings to expanding their minds and imaginations. The evenings with educational games, her refusal to entertain mediocrity, and her belief in her children's intelligence soon paid off.
A bit of his character was revealed when he was playing a pickup game of football (the game was and still is his first true love) and his team, losing badly, decided to throw the ball to their opponents and just lay down at the snap. When the ball was hiked, Demitri refused to lay down and took on as many as he could. Although his team didn't win, his team mates knew Demitri was a "guy who would never quit on them" and, from that point on, he was always the first one picked when choosing up sides. The next year, his junior high school team was eligible to play football in the tournament at school. Demitri wrote the playbook his team used to win the championship two consecutive years.
While in college, at the University of Richmond on an athletic scholarship, he tutored juvenile offenders at the Virginia Penitentiary. A member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., he has hosted one of the first "Quiet Storm" formatted radio programs in the Richmond area at the school's radio station, WDCE-FM. It was there, in Richmond, he became WTVR channel 6's first intern ever by telling General Manager, John Shand, "if he could get four people to take 15 minutes out of their lunch hour to show him something about television, he'd be able to run his station one day.". Shand, impressed by Demitri's "moxie," gave him a chance after watching him come to the station on his own the entire summer and the next year, invited him to join the station as a summer intern. Of course, after he graduated from the University of Richmond in 1979, Shand offered him a full time job at WTVR. Demitri progressed moving up the ladder from one television and radio station to another until, while married and the father of an infant daughter he was laid off by a television station in Washington, D.C. He, like his father's and uncles, then became a police officer.
He's been assigned undercover narcotics work with the Special Investigations Division, served 5 years with the SWAT team, a background investigator, a shift commander and an investigator with the Internal Affairs Division.
As a Deacon with the Galilee Baptist Church in Suitland, Maryland, when complaining about the perceived irresponsibility of African American males was becoming vogue, Demitri spearheaded the "Let's Celebrate Our Men Project" which established a "Proud Fathers Roll Call of Honor" in 1991. In 1992, he developed an award winning 14 week, Rites of Passage program for young men called "Men Under Construction." It's classes, 19 classes in 16 years, with approximately 500 students and 247 graduates have been credited with providing a blueprint for success for young men who were desperately in need of direction.
In 1996, the program was awarded the J. Franklin Bourne Association’s “Award for Community Service. Men Under Construction is featured in the Spring 2008 issue of the NAACP’s “CRISIS” magazine.
Disturbed by the number of young women he was constantly seeing fall prey to abusive husbands, boyfriends, and associates, he decided to, once again, encourage change for the better by making available to young ladies without fathers, a reference book on how to deal with men, depression, death, love, God and much more.
"Dear Rhonda" - Life Lessons From A Father To His Daughter, is causing a tidal wave of common sense everywhere it is read. The book struck such a resounding chord Demitri and Rhonda were invited to and appeared on, “Good Morning America,” “Fox Morning News” and the “Tavis Smiley Show” to discuss the book.
In 1997, "From Servitude to Self-Reliance, The Kornegay Chronicles," the book he wrote detailing his lineage, was added to the North Carolina Collection at the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Not content to rest there, he has conducted workshops on "Successfully Moving The African American Family Into the 21st Century," for adults, "The Importance of the Father-Daughter Relationship," for fathers, and "Mapping Out Your Own Success" for young adults. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Hampton University, in Hampton, Virginia, Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington College in Eastern Maryland.
“Hey Coach, have you got a minute?” That’s usually how it starts. A young man with a problem he doesn’t feel comfortable taking to his mother about needs straight talk from a man he respects. And when his father isn’t there, where can he turn? Once again, Demitri C. Kornegay, Deacon, mentor, teacher, coach, police lieutenant, father and an Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. “Religious Leader of the Year - 2007,” serves up the straight, no-chaser answers in words everybody can understand about the “N” word, money, peer pressure, entourages, dating, love, marriage, responsibility, fatherhood and more in “Man Up! – No Excuses, Do the Work!”
He was featured on the “Responsible Father” segment of TV ONE’S, “Black Men Revealed.”
While some call it motivation, he calls it coaching. Where some see a problem, he sees a challenge. Demitri Kornegay is determined to continue proving his creed of strength through intelligence, uplifting his fellow man by showing if you can read there is nothing you can't learn, and encouraging others to step forward when the question is asked with the answer, "Here am I. Send me."