By Solomon Jones | WURD Radio
Sometimes you meet people who influence you in ways you can’t immediately see.
Leroi Simmons did that for me. He called me one Saturday out of the blue while I was outside with my children. At the time I had just debuted a self-published CD called Wisdom, which I’d crafted from radio commentaries I’d done back in 2005.
I didn’t know how he got my number, but he said he wanted ten of them, so I drove to the unisex salon where he and his wife worked together on Chelten Avenue.
Reverend Leroi, as I called him, wasn’t the kind of preacher who would pray for you and stop there. No, he was a man who’d pray and move. A man who’d pray and protect. A man who’d pray and then get out in the street to protest—not just about his own kids’ education, but also about yours.
There was nothing phony about Reverend Leroi. If he liked you, he liked you. What you saw was what you got. And what you got was a soldier who was always on the battlefield for Black people. Reverend Leroi was so much more than a caller on a radio show, or a barber in a salon or a preacher in a pulpit. He was an example of what a Black man should be.
That’s why, over the years, I would drop by the salon to holler at him if I was in the area. And sometimes I would bring my wife. Because I wanted to hear his quiet wisdom. I wanted to hear his heartfelt laughter. I wanted to ask him how he was doing and hear him say he was boss good.
Reverend Leroi Simmons passed away at the age of 74, and I’ll miss him. But in his honor, I will hold our elders a little closer and say I love them a little more. Rest in peace Reverend Leroi. I know you’re with the father, and I know you’re doing boss good.