My history is my motivation, my purpose.
Durham, North Carolina is more than just my hometown; it’s part of my DNA. My town has always been blue collar, but after the local tobacco plant closed, folk were left with few job opportunities, including my own mother who lost her job and the dignity that comes with an honest day’s work. The tobacco factory closing coincided with drug epidemic of the 1980s, which decimated my community because too many felt hopeless about their futures.
Because of these misfortunes, my grandmother assumed parenting duties and raised me and my brother by herself. When I was still young, she charged me with cutting the grass at every house in my neighborhood, free of charge, which instilled in me discipline and an unwavering work ethic.
Due to this work ethic, I won a full athletic scholarship to Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh. And in 1998, I became the first generation of my family to receive a college degree.
After graduating, I landed my first job, which was a material handler in a warehouse for a logistics company. I loved the hard work and, by relying on those values my grandmother had taught me, I rose through the ranks.
But as I did, I noticed something else: that there were too many who worked just as hard as I did, but couldn’t achieve the same successes, too many who weren’t being paid fairly for their labor, too many who fell victim to economic injustices.
I spent several years as a manager and leader in the commodities industry and then struck out on my own, founding Global Ventures of North America in 1997, which conducts business with Fortune 500 companies across the globe. Through it all, there’s a single truth that I’ve always stood by: that ambition means nothing without purpose. That’s the reason I’ve aspired to bring about greater parity in the workforce at every stage in the career path.
In 2001, I was blessed to announce that I had become a father to twins. Unfortunately, they were born prematurely. And so, two weeks later, with a heavy heart, we let them go. It was this tragedy that led to my spiritual awakening. From that moment on, my aim in life became clear: to help the next person regardless of who they are.
Based on this newfound focus, I secured a position on the workforce development board in a volunteer capacity. I knew that, by applying my vast experience both in management and as a small business owner in the private sector, I could make a difference in the lives of others. My responsibilities include connecting at-risk youth, dislocated workers and those emerging from our judicial system with educational resources, job placement and trade skills. After nearly a decade advocating on this board, first in my role as vice-chair, then as the youngest chair to hold that position, I feel it’s my duty to broaden my advocacy.
That's why I'm running to become your United States Senator in our great state of North Carolina.
There are issues that affect every North Carolinian: our health insurance system is broken, too many are out of work, and children don’t have access to healthy food or a clear pathway to college.
Although my world came crashing down after the loss of my twins, I managed to find a way through and now, I’m overjoyed to have my wife, Ceilessia and a happy, healthy 9 year old boy, Caiden, by my side. Everyday, they teach me how to be more compassionate and have solidified my commitment to helping my fellow North Carolinians.
Steven Williams for US Senate.
When you are here, I am here for you.
North Carolina: the state for all
My top 3 priorities:
My number one priority is caring for the children of North Carolina, and that begins with education. As your senator, I plan on expanding funding for the North Carolina Pre-K Program, because a quality education should be a right for every child. North Carolina secures 1.8 Billion dollars a year from the Education Lottery, more than enough to help every public school in the state, yet our schools are failing. This is the 1.8 Billion dollar question: Where did the money go?
Tax dollars are being stripped from public schools in service of charter schools, forcing our teachers and parents to pick up the slack by purchasing their own school supplies—doing more with less every year. As charter schools are both publicly and privately funded, they have no standardization for quality, which results in an overall inconsistency for students. Meanwhile, public school kids are unfairly punished. Unfortunately, Thom Tillis chose to ignore the very serious problems concerning our state’s public institutions because these issues don’t affect him personally as he can afford to send his own kids to private schools. My son, Caiden, however, has always attended public schools here in North Carolina. Currently, he’s at Easley Elementary School and loves every second of it.
North Carolina also needs to rethink how we invest in vocational and associate degrees to ensure they have adequate funding. Trade should be reinstated in our high schools so that those who opt out of the college track can learn applicable skills and are able to support themselves financially as soon as they graduate high school.
For those who matriculate to a secondary school, we must make it easier for these students to graduate without debt, including a tuition-free option, like broadening access to the Hope Scholarship Credit. The only way to keep our best and brightest is to invest in them early and give every child the chance to go to college.
Let’s set the next generation of North Carolinians up for success.
Healthcare expansion and protection
Because of the Affordable Care Act, 20 Million more Americans have healthcare than ever before. The ACA was a vital step toward healthcare expansion, but we need to do more. We need to fill the gaps, and work towards better funding for this important piece of legislation. By improving upon the ACA, coverage for all can be a reality.
Social justice reform
We need to completely overhaul our criminal justice system. In order to have long-lasting, substantive reform, we’ve got to start by addressing the root of the matter and by using our system as a place for rehabilitation rather than retribution. When prisoners are subjected to 23 hour lockdowns, solitary confinement or mandated sentence extensions for minor infractions, we’re not repairing the harm; we’re creating a stronger criminal.
Here is what I propose: first, I will immediately call for the release of anyone who’s been locked up for nonviolent marijuana offenses and have that felony expunged from their record. Second, we must equalize prison sentencing guidelines so that people of color are not disproportionately affected. This includes eliminating the three-strikes rule for non-violent offenders, abolishing private prisons and addressing the school-to-prison pipeline by developing outreach programs for at-risk youth by the first grade. Finally, we must provide better health and wellness support to incarcerated individuals while they’re in prison. I will work tirelessly to uphold my belief that everyone is equal under the eyes of the Lord and that we all deserve second chances.