Black History Month: Conversations about Mentorship with Local Community Leaders

For Black History Month, Cornerstones of Care asked several Black community leaders in child advocacy to reflect on the idea of mentorship and to share about the role of important individuals in their development as a leader

Our first conversation is with Anthony J. Mondaine, Sr.

Anthony’s involvement in his community runs deep. As a senior in high school, he worked for the Local Investment Commission (LINC - before and after school program), working with middle school students. He is an ordained minister and the pastor at Restoration Life Church, a congregation he founded nearly eight years ago. Anthony served the Jackson County Children’s Services Fund for three years, supporting crisis intervention and providing important resources to families in need, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, voters elected Anthony to serve a six-year term on the Independence Missouri School Board of Education. With that historic election, Anthony became the Independence school district’s first Black school board member and the first person of color elected to any office in Independence.


Is mentorship particularly important for young people of color? If so, how?

It certainly is. I believe young people naturally seek guidance and inspiration, especially from people who look like them and understand their plight.


In your personal history, do you have a mentor who had an impact on your life and helped shape you as a leader? 

My grandfather shaped me; he molded me. He allowed me a safe space to be free, to be truthful, to be honest, to ask questions. He encouraged me to think for myself. 

He told me to go to the furthest parts of the earth to learn all that I could to experience and express myself unapologetically. Before he left, I asked him a question that I often get a particular response to: “Grandfather, do you think that I’m ‘ahead of my time?’”

All my life, people have told me, ‘Anthony is ahead of his time; Anthony is going to do big things.’ So, I asked him and was surprised by his response.

“No. You are right on time. You are exactly what the world needs right now.” I needed to hear that – it really helped me.

This man was devoted to give his life, his everything to me and to his other grandchildren who he loved dearly. If you would have asked him what he lived for, he would have said ‘his family.’

I am so thankful that I had an example like him to show me the truth about humanity, about the beauty in humanity and the very, very ugly side of humanity. He abundantly exceeded the expectations of a mentor and a grandfather. He was not just my grandfather; he was my hero.


Is there a historical leader who inspired you growing up or shaped your understanding of society and your role in it?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He has helped shape me as a leader and helped me understand my role in society.


As a local leader in child advocacy, what future change do you hope to see that will help create opportunity for more Black children to assume leadership roles?

More representation in leadership and fact-based courageous conversations that furnish change and bring about solutions.

For me, that does help create more opportunity. Seeing representation does bring people to the table and encourages people to be involved, so I do think that is something that can help. That’s where it starts, really.


Are there personal or organizational celebrations of Black History Month in your community that you’d like to share? 

On Sunday, February 26, at 4 p.m. at St Paul AME Church there is a Black history program that they do annually. It’s called “We can go further together; further than we can go alone,” and I plan to be there to support.

I’ll also be speaking at William Chrisman High School’s fifth annual Black history program on February 23 at 6:30 p.m. Some of the things I will expound on are courage, integrity, and doing the best that you can do in every area of your life to get the best results.


And we’d like you to answer the unasked question. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am a music artist, and I don’t necessarily have any Black History Month-appropriate music that I’ve recorded, but that is something that people would be interested to know about me.

One of the most known songs that I have is “Home for Christmas.” I wrote it for people who are in the military and away from home at Christmastime.

I like to sing and share music – and fishing. My grandfather and I would go to James A. Reed [Memorial Wildlife Area]. I think my grandmother got me into fishing, but that was definitely our thing – my grandfather and me.


In January, Anthony and his six-year-old daughter, Aabrielle, sang for the first time together publicly at their church’s MLK Day celebration. To see a video of the two singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” together, visit the Restoration Life Church Facebook page. To find recorded music by Anthony, search for Anthony Mondaine on any streaming platform.