Lions’ Trey Flowers moderates panel on mass incarceration, systemic racism
Mass incarceration, Social Injustice, and systemic racism are sensitive subjects to discuss. That’s regardless of the time or place. And that goes double for NFL locker rooms, which is something Trey Flowers knows.
All three entities hosted the Breaking The Cycle Symposium on Tuesday night at the Marygrove Conservancy. Flowers and Lions safety Jalen Elliott moderated two separate panel discussions on the above mentioned topics. Another notable name headlining the panel discussion was former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee.
The discussion was raw. It was moving. And it even caused some to shed tears.
From Pure Heart’s website, 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent. Of that 2.7 million, four out of every ten are in Detroit. Furthermore, 92% of the men in prison are fathers, and 80% are mothers.
These are staggering numbers, which is why Trey Flowers stepped up to do his part. He wants to move the conversations forward on this issue.
“You can see it all throughout the Black community,” said Flowers. “You have a father that’s not at home [and] a mother that’s raising her son. [And] you hear the stories all the time. That can kinda go either way.”
“Just to not have that around due to mass incarceration, obviously, can affect that child’s future. [It] can affect that child’s thought process as far as he or she goes out into the world. I think it’s very important and very significant to talk about it right now to raise awareness.”
As mentioned, Trey Flowers did not moderate alone, as he brought safety Jalen Elliott with him.
“Jalen has always been a guy trying to give back to his community,” said Flowers. “From the situation as far as last year when we had those conversations in the locker room as a team, it was plenty that spoke up and spoke out about this situation in general as far as the justice system.”
“He was one of the guys that was passionate about it. When he heard [about] the opportunity to come and support, he was all hands-on.”
And Flowers isn’t lying.
Elliott told Woodward Sports that Flowers’ non-profit team asked for his participation in early August. Elliott agreed to help based on several factors.
For starters, he looks up to Flowers. Elliott said he is thankful for his presence. Along with that, he recognizes Flowers’s importance to the Lions. But the most significant factor is what he witnessed back home in Virginia. He saw the effects of having incarcerated parents from people around him.
“Thankfully, a lot of us growing up had really good mentors,” said Elliott. “That’s one of the reasons that I was so excited to come out and be a part of this. The mentors that I had made sure that we stayed on the right path. And [they] made sure that even though some of our friends had incarcerated or some of the people that I was around had incarcerated parents, they still knew that they had a mentor to come back to and run ideas off of, and to make sure they were staying on the right path.”
“So it’s very important to me to be here for these types of things and be in the community of Detroit.”
Participating in this event has personal significance with Flowers and Elliott. Being there for the youth meant a lot to them. However, their involvement meant even more to Sherelle Hogan.
Hogan is the founder and CEO of the non-profit, The Pure Heart Foundation (PHF). PHF offers assistance, guidance, mentorship, and resources to children in Detroit with incarcerated parents.
The organization is Hogan’s life mission.
Because, like the children she helps, she too was one of those kids. So having Flowers, Elliott, The Player’s Coalition, and the Detroit Lions, in general, support was a big deal to her.
“It means so much to me,” said Hogan. “Not only do they [Detroit Lions] support us financially, but they take time out of their busy schedule to make Pure Heart a priority. They elevate our young people. They show up for them. So having their support here tonight leaves me full of gratitude. Because like I said, they could be doing anything, but they’re here addressing an issue that has been a problem for far too long.”
“I was so excited, and I was so grateful. Again, from a player’s standpoint and a team standpoint, we have their support. But for a player to come to me individually and want to support and give that extra support was critical.”
And this wasn’t the first time Hogan had extra support from Flowers.
Last year, Hogan purchased a home to act as a center for the youth she helps cater to, and it was vandalized and destroyed a day before the open house. Burglars stoles supplies and appliances, leaving them in a $10,000 hole. After hearing about the tragic situation, Flowers reached out to Hogan personally to offer assistance. In Hogan’s eyes, Flowers’ act of kindness made him a hero with her youth.
“All of the young people love Trey, said Hogan. “They see him as a football player, but they also see him as someone that cares about me and showing up for me.”
“It’s impactful, and it’s important because young people cannot be what they don’t see.”
Flowers knows the young children in PHF, and the kids his Flowers of the Future Foundation support look up to him. And his stature as a role model is something that he takes seriously.
“To have kids look up to me, that’s a big crown to wear,” said Flowers. Just to understand that every move, you can be an inspiration to the youth. To know you have to move in a positive way [and] you have to understand that all your decision have to be calculated.”
“It’s very encouraging for me just to know that those kids look up to me. I have to set the standard to try to be the standard the best I can.”
After yesterday’s event concluded, Trey Flowers didn’t only donate his time. He also presented PHF CEO Sherelle Hogan with a $5,000 check for her foundation.
“They’re committed, and they’re dedicated,” said Hogan. “One Pride is definitely one thing that they [the Detroit Lions] do live by.”
“I’m so grateful for the partnership and can’t wait to see what we do in the future.”