RICHMOND, Va. – Activist, urban gardener, and founder of Happily Natural Day, Duron Chavis has a plethora of work on his resume. What makes this man influential is his genuine desire to enrich the African American community.
While attending Virginia State University 1998-2000, Chavis was an earnest student activist who advocated for the cultural mindfulness of people who have African ancestry.
“Working as an activist has allowed me a space to be passionate about life, passionate about change and as time has evolved my paycheck and passions have melded together,” said Chavis.
Chavis began his career as a volunteer for the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia and eventually became their employee.
“Volunteering at the Black History Museum allowed me to fully immerse myself into that world and get familiar with all the different topics and stories and aspects of that,” said Chavis. “It was an opportunity to get my foot in the door.”
He founded the Happily Natural Day festival in 2003 as a grassroots effort. This festival turned out to be a wild success. Many Africans reevaluated the way they thought regarding the inferiority complex that many still face as a consequence of western dominance.
“Because there isn’t a class that you can take on how to be sensitive culturally to community to color and poverty,” said Chavis. “I’m going to have to make that class.”
Angela Patton, founder of Camp Diva that helps young girls, met Chavis at the Happily Natural Day festival.
“It can be a lonely place when you’re trying to change the world,” said Patton. “It’s a lot of hard work.”
Chavis does not think that people should just volunteer, however, to find what they would do for free.
“What is it that you would wake up for at 7:00 am and there was no money involved? What is that thing that gets you hype and gets you excited,” asked Chavis, “What ever that the thing is, don’t lose that.”
Chavis assures college students out there that you will eventually will get paid for what you are passionate about. Do not be afraid to do something just because you will not get paid for it. This is how you will get your foot in the door. Employers will notice your passion.
“Duron is extremely committed who is smart and articulate and I appreciate that,” said Patton. “I always tell him to get his doctorate because I see him as a college professor.”
Chavis also points out that because you are in college, you have a lot of time to do what you want to do for free.
“Time is definitely something that when you’re in college you can afford to invest for the most part. When you get a family and you got children it becomes a lot harder to come by,” said Chavis. “You have a lot more time to invest in yourself and volunteering is an invest in myself and my career.”
Volunteering is quite influential in catapulting you into your career according to Chavis.
“Volunteering is mega beneficial in terms of differentiating yourself in the workforce, in your career, in your business because once you’ve done a thing and you can quantify that you led this from point A to point Z, nobody can take that away from you,” said Chavis.
Chavis earned several awards for his work. In 2011, he served as a Clean Air Ambassador on behalf of Earthjustice and the Hip Hop Caucus. In the same year, he became an alumnus of leadership Metro Richmond’s class. A year before that he received Style Weekly’s Top 40 under 40 award. His work evolved into a passion that many aim for regularly.
“You never want to do something because you just got to pay these bills,” said Chavis, “that’s the curse of adulthood.”
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