15 Aug “The Agent of Change”
“The Agent of Change “
-Who is Kyron Banks?
A youthful, energetic, humble and regular guy. I love God, government, some sports and my mother. My mom is a huge reason for who I am today. My mom passed when I was 11 years old; this had a very large impact on my life. She always talk to me as she would talk to an adult. Sometimes she was too honest with a seven year old, but her honesty and transparency, influence me to want to be transparent with others and I strive to be just that everyday. My mom was my everything; after I lost her, I contemplated suicide, withdrew socially, and wondered how I could get over her not being with me everyday. What she left with me, is her strength, resilience and an unique undergo that guides and carries me through my toughest and darkest days.
My dad put me in Martial arts at a young age and looking back, karate became the house that sheltered me from all of the trouble that surrounded me and any potentially bad decisions that I never had the opportunity to make at a young age. Karate taught me discipline, honor, and respect, not only for myself but everyone around me. Not to mention it kept me busy from training to tournaments up and down the east coast to my dad waking me up at 5am to run a couple of miles. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was building character, strength and developing a drive that I wouldn’t come to know or understand until my junior year in college — thanks Dad!
Who I am is a combination of the strengths my parents ingrained in me by example and the lessons taught to me ensuring I don’t replicate their mistakes. I’m just a guy who’s trying to make it, a young man who’s indebted to martial arts. I’ve been very blessed thus far and my journey of finding my purpose is similar to many others my age. As like many of my friends, mentoring young people is a role that I enjoy. I currently have four mentees who are all rockstars in their own way. I strive to not only guide them when things and decisions are tough, but I try to be their rock too as they find themselves.
-Tell us about your political career.
During my first semester as a junior year in college, I interned for a Republican State Senator in Pennsylvania. That experience helped me realize that I was definitely not a conservative. The next semester, I was accepted into the Legislative Fellowship Program where I placed with Democratic leadership. In particular, I interned for the Minority Whip, who is responsible for making sure the party votes along the same lines on contentious issues. When votes are close, this is where the Whip comes in. For example, if the Democrats have 102 votes and the Republicans have 101, two changing votes could swing the entire outcome of the legislation.
As an intern, I assisted the floor manager to ensure all the Democrats voted on every bill. Working on the floor allowed me to become closely acquainted with the majority of the Philadelphia Delegation – mostly African Americans. In the Capitol, it was very rare to see young people of color interning and have access to the House floor. The floor manager injured his knee shortly before I started work and this created a great opportunity for me to do the physical part of the job, which is to walk up and down the aisles of the House floor to make sure everyone voted. The Philadelphia delegation is placed towards the back of the chamber so the more they saw my face, the more I got to know them and began developing relationships with them, even though I was not and had never really visited Philadelphia.
My final project of the fellowship was to draft and defend a piece of legislation. I decided to chose a timely piece of legislation. I chose Early Voting. At first, I was really apprehensive because I wasn’t a lawyer and drafting a potentially legally binding document was a pretty big task for a 20 year old. I enlisted the help of many staffers in leadership, the Philadelphia delegation and actual lawyers. I remember the day that I presented my piece of legislation with representatives from both parties in the room and it was great! – I even caused a policy argument, during the question and answer segment. It was an incredible experience and I was so proud of what I was able to put together that without even realizing, I began talking to different members about actually introducing the legislation on the house floor. I forget what session it was, but a freshman representative agreed to introduce it on the house floor as House Bill 514–it never was considered by the State Government committee, controlled by Republicans. After my internship, I then interned for a lobbying firm that did quasi-government work with all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. I worked with the Government Relations team; it helped me realize I didn’t want to lobby on behalf of an organization.
About three days after graduating, I briefly caught up with an older, fellow alumnus of the Legislative Fellowship Program. After telling him I didn’t have a job lined up and I was down about it, he asked for my resume and of course, I obliged. Unbeknownst to me, his mentor worked in the Philadelphia mayor’s office as the Deputy Chief of Staff and the office was hiring! I sent my resume out as soon as I returned to work; two hours later, I got an email scheduling an interview with the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia. In preparing for these interviews, I seeked the help of the Philadelphia delegation – in particular then Representative Cherelle Parker. I remember walking into her office and briefly sharing what I knew about the position. She got up, grabbed something off her desk and walked back towards the table we were sitting at. She placed, what I now know, Pew Charitable Trust’s Report: State of the City. She said “Don’t step foot into City Hall until you read and understand this report. Of course I did it and after four rounds of interviews, including one with the mayor, which we briefly talked policy, I moved to Philadelphia to begin my new job as a Mayoral Aide in July of 2013.
In 2016, the Mayor was term limited and knowing that my job was coming to an end wasn’t the most pleasant experience. With anything coming to an end, I decided to take the opportunity to try something new with the guidance from my mentor Desiree. Though I had never worked on a campaign before, I took a position as the deputy campaign manager for a state legislative race. We lost the primary election by a little more than 700 votes. After the campaign, I found myself unemployed again. I was searching for another role and got the opportunity to join the Democratic National Convention (DNC) as the Community Engagement Consultant.
The last day of the DNC was my first day as the Youth Outreach Director on the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania. My primary goal was to help organize youth and millennials ages 18-34, making sure we knew what they cared about and also articulating to them that Hillary would follow through with her plans if elected — now we are experiencing and talking about 45’s conversaries everyday instead of focusing on improving the quality of life for the American people.
-What has been the most difficult task or barrier for you in politics?
Being young is often associated with inexperience or a lack of capacity to handle the work or a particular position. It is always good to gain a coalition of peers and experienced individuals who trust you and can lobby for you if you’re interested in a job, more work in your current role or even expanding duties.
-What advice do you have for African Americans interested in politics?
Jump in and don’t wait for anyone. Campaigns are fast-paced and only last for a short amount of time depending on the political landscape. They don’t have time to look back and find people or open doors for people who aren’t already knocking. Politics may look scary from the outside, but you can move up quickly. Jump in, have goals, communicate those goals and be open minded.
Working in government on any level– never take it personal.. As humans, our first instinct is self-preservation – it always has been and always will be. Just make sure you are always growing, and be humble enough to know and understand that your work is bigger than yourself.
-How can readers keep up with you?
On Twitter @thewordbanks, and Kyron (Ky) Banks on Facebook.
This article was written by Justin Sims, (IAMMRMENTOR), In hopes of not only inspiring entrepreneurs, but young black males to be the best and the truest version of themselves.
If you like this article and find yourself interested in more positive stories about black millennial age males, please visit WWW.IAMMRMENTOR.CO and follow him on his social media pages IAMMRMENTOR on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.