When our community’s youth prosper, it’s a cause for celebration, and Heal the City is here to help take our young men to new heights.

On Thursday, May 4th, community members gathered to celebrate the young men of the Urban League Guild’s upcoming Gentlemen’s Ball. After a hiatus due to COVID-19, one of the City’s most beloved events is finally making its triumphant return. This event celebrates Black excellence and serves as a coming-of-age moment for our City’s young men of color. This supportive network of gentlemen is integral in supporting the next generation of Trentonians, providing mentorship, connecting, and community.

The Gentleman’s Ball was initially organized in 1982 after John Couch observed that there were not many organizations devoted to celebrating African American young men’s academic and athletic achievements. After encounters with young men at the City’s recreation centers, he realized how many high-achieving young people in our town were not receiving the recognition they deserved. So, with the support of the Urban League Guild, plans were laid, and the first Gentleman’s Ball was held at the Capital Plaza in 1983. Since then, the event has served as an excellent opportunity to formally recognize the young men in our community who are striving for excellence.

On the billboard was a simple but profound quote from actor and author Hill Harper: “Belief in yourself, work hard. Work smart and passionately present your best self to the world.” This quote is at the core of Heal the City’s work and captures the essence of the exemplary young men of the Urban League Guild. These young men have set themselves apart through academic excellence and an ambitious future plan. In a world where young men of color are consistently bombarded with headlines about gun violence and shattered dreams, a positive outlet and a source of hope can be critical in affirming a brighter future for the young men of the community.

Stacy Heading perfectly summed up the importance of these billboards in his unveiling speech, noting, “When people from the community, young and old, drive by, they see you. Not models, not other people from somewhere else, it’s us that they see.” This event was a wonderful opportunity not only for the friends and loved ones of these young men to celebrate their achievements but a reminder to our entire community of the excellence being achieved every day.

Since its founding in 2014, Heal the City has hosted dozens of billboards highlighting positive stories regarding youtCity’scy Heading, the mind behind Heal the City, says, “Since 2014, we have put up close to 70 billboards with positive messages and visuals, highlighting the greatness of the people in our community.” Heal the City is truCityn the business of changing lives and sending a signal to our youth that they can transcend the negative headlines and build a life they are truly proud of. The billboards are not just a ray of positivity in an often abysmal climate; they serve as a tangible reminder of the incredible things that young people can do with just a little bit of hope.

Heal the City’s billCity’s draw much-needed attention to the amazing things our city’s youtCity’saily. This unveiling is the latest celebration of the community’s outstanding young adults. Images of prospering young adults in our community are vital in inspiring the next generation of Trentonians. This representation will undoubtedly be a point of pride for anyone who calls Trenton their home. On behalf of the Trenton Daily team, congratulations to the fine young men of the 40th Gentleman’s Ball!

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