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Lewis E. Dodley

Youth Advocate and Motivational Speaker Lewis E. Dodley was born on December 25, 1940 in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from East High School in Columbus and went on to attend Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Dodley has received extensive training to become a Violence Prevention Certification Specialist and a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor (CCDCIII). He is also a Certified Afrocentric National Rites of Passage Elder and Trainer.

Dodley joined Ohio’s Department of Youth Services in 1960 as a staff development trainer. Ten years later, he also began serving as director of family services for Rosemont Family Center. Dodley received his Ph.D. degree in psychology and guidance counseling from the Ohio State University in 1981. Since 1984, he has served as a trainer and consultant for Youth to Youth International, a drug and violence prevention organization. In 1987, Dodley became a project director and consultant for Salesian Boys Club. He organized the Simba Circle in 1993, a two-week male rites of passage program for African American youth, and heads the Outward Bound Program for the Simba Circle. Also in 1993, Dodley became a consultant for the Columbus Public Schools. From 2004 to 2011, he held the position of drug prevention coordinator for the Columbus Health Department. Dodley serves as a licensed counselor for the Federal TRIO Programs’ Upward Bound Program and a senior consultant for the Harambee Leadership Academy, Inc. He has over twenty years’ experience in criminal justice, children’s services, violence prevention, therapeutic intervention and drug prevention. With his expertise, Dodley is a sought-after speaker around the country including presenting at the Ohio Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel OAEOPP Student Leadership and Professional Conference and the S.A.V.E. (Stand Against a Violent Environment) Rapid City Youth Conference.

Dodley has been recognized for his commitment to youth issues and violence prevention including receiving the Community Against Violence and Abuse Award in 2005. He also has been recognized by the Columbus Urban League. Dodley was a member of the Raising the African-American Potential (RAAP) Leadership Committee in 2006. He has four adult children, Lewis, Traci, Mark and Kimberly.

Lewis E. Dodley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.103

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/6/2012

Last Name

Dodley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

E

Schools

The Ohio State University

Otterbein University

East High School

Douglas Alternative Elementary School

Champion Avenue School

First Name

Lewis

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

DOD04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

It Is Better To Build Children Than Fix Adults. A Warrior Doesn't Build A Shield On The Battlefield.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/25/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Motivational speaker and youth advocate Lewis E. Dodley (1940 - ) was an expert on youth violence and drug prevention. He founded the SIMBA Circle, an Afrocentric rites of passage program for young African American men.

Employment

Columbus Health Department

HARAMBEE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY, INC.

Department of Youth Services, State of Ohio

Rosemont Family Center

Salesian Boys Club

Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority

Favorite Color

Pink, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lewis E. Dodley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the Flytown section of Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his father's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers his father's return from World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers a childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers the black businesses in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his childhood activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers Douglas Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his family members' alcoholism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers his activities at East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley recalls his recruitment to Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the schools near Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers marrying his first wife

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his relationship with his first wife

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his work experiences after leaving Otterbein College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers enrolling at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the black male leaders in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the black female leaders in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his influences at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about joining an all-white fraternity at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his research for his master's degree

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers working with Youth to Youth International

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about youth drug prevention programs

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers working at the Ohio Department of Youth Services

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about developing rites of passage for black youth

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the Afrocentric movement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley remembers the influential black psychologists

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley describes his rites of passage program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the rituals in his rites of passage program

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the SIMBA Circle summer camp

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley describes the SIMBA Circle's crossover ceremony

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the mask making ceremony at SIMBA Circle

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley describes the final ceremony at SIMBA Circle

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley describes the teaching philosophy of SIMBA Circle

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his rites of passage program for former prison inmates

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the value of Afrocentric principles

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lewis E. Dodley reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the Safe in My Sister's Arms Circle (SISMA Circle)

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about the funding for the SIMBA Circle

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about working with youth from different cities

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lewis E. Dodley describes his family

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Lewis E. Dodley talks about his grandchildren

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Lewis E. Dodley describes his love of fishing

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lewis E. Dodley describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lewis E. Dodley narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Lewis E. Dodley remembers working at the Ohio Department of Youth Services
Lewis E. Dodley talks about the rituals in his rites of passage program
Transcript
Let me go back a little bit to 1981 when you got your Ph.D., now did you, did you immediately go after a different job? Or did you get hi- did you get offers for any other jobs?$$I had a couple of offers. But I stayed with the Department of Youth Services [Ohio Department of Youth Services] for a while, because I wanted to, for one thing, to pay back the money, in order to not be bogged down with loans. They have what they call the Juvenile Justice Act [Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974], or the law enforcement act, LEAA [Law Enforcement Assistance Administration]. And whereas if you worked at an agency that paid your tuition, you'd pay it back by working there. This is why I liked that idea a lot. It keeps you in your field, you know. Yeah, so that was 1981. Okay, I became interested in--I got so tired of seeing our kids die. I met a young man from, he used to be a pastor at this church. Harvard Stephens [Harvard Stephens, Jr.] was his name. He had a program called Young Men with a Future, and he saw me working with kids at the detention center during the time I had my doctorate. I joined groups on Saturdays at the DH [ph.]. He said, "How about coming to my church and work with a group of boys on rites of passage programming?" I said, "Sure." So after that it branched off, and I met with people in Chicago [Illinois] through the Evangelical Lutheran [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] headquarters on Higgins [Road].$$About what year is this?$$Ninety [1990].$$Nineteen ninety [1990]?$$Ninety-one [1991].$$Ninety-one [1991], okay.$$Yeah, because we started our first camp in '93 [1993].$$Now explain, what is the rites of passage program, and how do these programs get started? Were you aware of these in the past?$$Yeah. Dr. Kelsey [Moriba Kelsey] had always said that he feels like the biggest problem our kids have is not knowing what a real man is, or what a real woman is. And how you get that, every culture has a rites of passage program, but it had to be retrieved. And rites of passage, of course, are those events that you go through physically, emotionally, and psychologically to make you, quote, a responsible person. And those steps sometimes get lost. And I think I have to remind kids sometimes--they know what a bar mitzvah is, but they don't equate it with what they're going through, okay. So, rites of passage are those agreed upon activities and events you have to have in order to maintain who you really are. You've got to know who you are. If you don't know who you are, you set yourself up for abuse. Because people will say anything about you, but when you know who you really are, then you don't have to worry about hating somebody else, because you know who you really are. Plus, it's just fascinating when kids understand. For example, little facts like pyramids. They still--I mean they don't--when I say, "Somebody built a pyramid that looked just like you," you know, and there's some questions. I said, "Have you ever seen a brick of a pyramid, guys? One is big as this room."$Okay.$$Oh.$$You were walking us through (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. And when they throw their pain in that fire, I'd tell them, "Look up, look at the stars. And write your name in the stars, connect the dots. And all the rest of the stars are ancestors, someone who died so that you could go on." And I remind them, "Your ancestors didn't bring you this far to let you down." Now, and I also tie that into another--it's about rituals, learning about rituals, and why we have rituals. We explained to them, why do we do libations or tambiko? Not to be just to be doing it, not worshipping. You're remembering. So for anybody who thinks that it's sacrilegious, it's not that we are worshipping. We're remembering, and honoring and understanding that there are people who came before us that allowed us to even be on this campus that we're all on here today, this sort of thing. And when you stand, you stand--like if you're playing football and you're a wide receiver, you don't stand on one foot, because then you standing on the ancestors' shoulders--heads. And we don't want that, so you stand firmly, like this. And then you--we had them--if you've never done libations or tambiko--I know you have. But it's a real teaching moment for kids to remember their ancestry. Because we first start out by asking them to remember someone before slavery, and then, "Where is Timbuktu [Mali]? I thought that was in Texas." Then we teach like that. So we always ask them to think about someone before slavery, and were talking about the first doctors, Imhotep you know. Of course you know all of that, but I'm saying that kids don't know it, you know. They say, "Well, maybe it's a mummy." I say, "Well, to mummify a body, you have to be a physician." I said. And they still are amazed at how they preserve those bodies. That sort of thing. So, that piqued their interest. And the more people they call out, you know, the better we are. And some of them don't know. Then now, they want to know. And then we ask them to answer the Moth [ph.], not the Middle Passage, and explain what that means. We don't use that term anymore, because it's a great tragedy, and it's not like we were able to ride back home and stuff like that. Slavery was one way. And so, you get a chance while you're doing libation to teach at the same time. And even when you get to the part where you have the boys to call up their own personal ancestors, like that, I say, "Somebody who makes you smile," and you ought to see the smiles on their faces. And sometimes they explain who it is. You don't have to. And then we always ask them to pour a libation for an event or something in your life that's meaningful to you. For example substance abuse, teenage mothers, people born with AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome], and all kind of stuff like this. Bring their consciousness up about what's going on with us during the rites of passage ceremonies. And the whole curriculum [at SIMBA Circle], that's just the ten days. I mean we do this in ten days, and then we come back and expand on each one of those points in our school and afterschool programs. That's why we have the Urban Warriors [ph.]. We have boys now at a conference in Toledo [Ohio], I think that's where it's at. In fact, the guy who took them, is one of our nation builders, which is a rank in rites of passage. And the nation builders are the ones who work directly with the Warriors. I'm an elder, so the camp is designed, you got the elders--well, you got the watoto's [ph.], or the warriors, the kids that have the war spirit. Then they're surrounded by nation builders. And the nation builders are surrounded by the elders. And the elders are the ones who help, if we need to.$$Providing overall guidance for them?$$Right. We have a--and we always make the difference between an elder and an older, like that.