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Black celebrities are answering a call to action that will improve the lives of at-risk youths

Tyler Perry, Tom Joyner and Monica Pearson are among the black public figures to donate time and resources to Be Someone

When activist Orrin Hudson put out a call to action to help save America’s at-risk youths, tons of volunteers united by donating resources, time and money to his cause, Be Someone. Now celebrities have joined in.

For more than 15 years, Hudson has been working to change the dynamics for young adults and children who lack direction in schools and their communities. According to his website, through his motivational programs and chess lessons, he is helping thousands of kids stay out of trouble and lead successful lives “one move at a time.” Through Hudson’s Be Someone organization, citizens and public figures across the nation are working together to build better futures for the country’s youths.

He recently spent his time rallying for the help of black celebrities to focus on at-risk youths who desperately need a lifestyle change. The initiative has attracted a growing list of black celebrities, including actor Tyler Perry and radio personalities Tom Joyner and Monica Pearson.

“Tyler Perry paid for our parking lot at our training center,” Hudson said. “Monica [Pearson] featured me on her radio show KISS 104.1 for two hours and helped me get registrations for our summer camp. And Tom Joyner featured me on his show and invited me to his annual Family Reunion, which helped us develop relationships with other black influentials. But we really need more people to help us; together we can achieve the extraordinary.”

Hudson founded the nonprofit organization in 2001 using chess to build self-esteem, analytical thinking and responsibility. Hudson believes the game shares the same fundamentals that should be instilled in youths from an early age. Using the slogan “Make every move count,” Hudson hopes the takeaway for everyone who comes through the program is a better sense of self-awareness, problem-solving skills, discipline and concentration to help recognize and achieve lifetime goals.

And for many, Hudson’s approach to life and his foundation’s philosophy have served as a breakthrough. Aaron Porter, a student of the program, was a troubled youth whose lifestyle could have landed him a stint in prison after “nearly killing” his father with a knife after an argument. Instead, the program showed Porter there were many other options and better ways to deal with his anger and stress.

“My dad came home from prison during the summer, he came at me, and we got into it,” Porter said in a testimonial. “I ended up pulling out a knife on him, nearly killing him. When the judge offered me a chance to participate in this special ‘school-based’ project instead of going into the system, I jumped at the opportunity. That special project was teaching kids how to play chess — how every move counts. Participating in this project, I was taught how to use chess to make strategic life decisions. While in the project, we traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to participate in the state chess championship. We won! Today, I am successful because of chess and my mentor Orrin Hudson.”

Be Someone has helped transform many lives, and Hudson hopes he can continue his mission with the help of others. Last month, a GoFundMe page was created to raise money to help Hudson to reach his goal of helping 1 million students begin their paths to a better life. According to the organization’s website, Hudson and BeSomeone.org have touched more than 50,000 kids, and his goal is to pass along his message to 1 million children in underserved communities.

Orrin Hudson


“This is less about chess and more about building character,” Hudson said. “Love, honesty, respect, responsibility, patience are five character traits that are essential to success. If we have the brightest children in the world and they don’t have character, the schools have failed them and this nation has failed them. Really, Be Someone is priceless. After all, it is the moral development of the whole child that will determine their success in life.”

According to his biography, Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson is the seventh sibling of 13 and was once on a dangerous path. He was in and out of foster homes and involved in petty crime, but James Edge, a white teacher in an all-black high school, realized Hudson’s potential and taught him that his actions had consequences, and he then taught him to play chess. By his senior year in high school, Hudson was no longer considered at-risk and had evolved into being voted “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Outstanding Student” by his peers.

As an adult, Hudson served in the U.S. Air Force and then as an Alabama state trooper for six years. He continued his journey as a chess player, and he leaned on his personal development strategy of being the best to become a two-time World Open speed chess winner.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.