Antong Lucky, former gang member, speaks to teachers at Empowered Conference

Posted in on July 22, 2022

The founder of the Dallas Bloods gang visited the Arlington ISD Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center last week.

Empowered Rise Up Conference

But Antong Lucky’s colors have changed. He was at the CTC to inspire and encourage teachers attending the Empowered Rise Up Conference.

The professional development conference included teachers from Arlington ISD and beyond and focused on a methodology and resources teachers can use to engage students in experiential self-discovery and help develop an entrepreneurial/growth mindset. The Empowered methodology is used in entrepreneurship courses at the CTC. (Stay tuned to the Arlington ISD blog for an article coming soon with more details.)

Beyond the surface

Antong Lucky, former gang member, speaks to teachers at Empowered ConferenceLucky’s message to the teachers was simple, but personal and profound. His tools and tips for teachers boiled down to seeking to understand and love students.

“If you don’t look past the exterior, you miss the opportunity to make an impact,” he said. “You never know what’s behind the exterior of these kids. Sometimes it’s a celebration that these kids even made it to school.”

Lucky knows that from experience. He was a smart and gifted student as a child, even a teacher’s pet. But life was difficult outside of school. His mother was only 16 when he was born, and his father was incarcerated. Lucky’s Dallas neighborhood was rough, and life became about survival.

At 19 years old, a judge declared Lucky a “menace to society” and sent him to prison.

But one day in prison, another inmate pulled Lucky aside and said, “If you have the ability to lead these men (other prisoners) to do wrong, you have the same ability within you to do right. You are a leader.”

That moment sparked a change. That man continued to mentor Lucky in prison and Lucky poured himself into learning, reading every book he could, doing what was right and mentoring others.

Lots of Love

Today, Lucky leads Urban Specialists, a non-profit in Dallas that works to change the cultural environment of communities to stop violence and help individuals reach their fullest potential. Lucky and his team train and equip others to become mentors and agents of change.

“I’ve been able to overcome a lot of obstacles,” he said.

He encouraged the teachers to build the foundation for their students so they can also overcome obstacles.

“We need to give these kids love,” Lucky said.

Then he quoted a friend: “The problem is LOL – lack of love. The solution is LOL – lots of love.”

Get Lucky’s book to learn more about his story and mission. And learn more about Empowered here.