CARMEL — Black History Month honors the sacrifices and achievements of African Americans in our country and community.
The City of Carmel's first Equity Manager, Dr. Timothy Knight, is developing leadership programs for city employees and guiding the city management through challenges and goals involving diversity, equality and inclusion.
"In school, we learned about Black heroes and the work that they did, and we were inspired to be like them growing up," said Dr. Knight.
Helping others has always been a priority for Dr. Knight.
"For me, it was all about service. At 13 years old, I taught my first Sunday school class. I preached my first sermon at 15 and I've been in leadership roles all my life," said Dr. Knight.
So when the City of Carmel called Knight to fill a newly created position to help bring inclusion and diversity to the city, it felt right.
"I am passionate about this work because it's an opportunity to build bridges," said Dr. Knight.
If you look at his four-page resume, you will see many degrees, a lot of promotions and several awards.
"He came up the tough way and has made quite a successful life and he's exactly the type of person we need helping our employees," said Carmel Mayor James Brainard.
Behind that resume is a man who looked past his circumstances and created the life he deserved.
"I grew up in abject poverty in a town called East St. Louis, Illinois. When I say abject poverty, I didn't know what it was to turn on the heat until I moved away to Indianapolis for school," said Dr. Knight.
Determined to not become a product of his environment, Knight first came to the Hoosier state to further his education.
"I could remember my mom giving me about $750. A one-way bus ticket and that was it," said Dr. Knight.
That money didn't go far and when it ran out, he quickly found himself homeless.
"We had this thing in East St. Louis called the 'East St. Louis shuffle.' It's when people with great promise leave. They have talent, ability, skills, but something happens along the way, and they return home. They don't fulfill those dreams. They don't actualize their promise. I was determined that wasn't going to happen to me," said Dr. Knight.
With a few Hoosiers rallying behind him, Dr. Knight graduated and soon landed an opportunity with IMPD.
"I needed stable employment; it was as simple as that," said Dr. Knight.
After leaving IMPD in 2014 and moving to California, he is now back in the Hoosier state.
"White people, poor people also experience issues. Asian people have issues. Women, black females. Each one of those categories really needs a culturally-based initiative to address all of those issues," said Dr. Knight.
"This position is meant to help our employees understand these differences and react appropriately to them. As we grow, we'll continue to expand that training and work as necessary," said Mayor Brainard.
"We can address them in a hierarchal way and vertical way. The key is addressing each and identifying and creating remedies for each of those root causes. That's something I've been passionate about since I understood the dimensions of race," said Dr. Knight.
Dr. Knight is also the co-founder of IMPD's OK program. — a collaborative effort between law enforcement, local government and the community to mentor young Black men. The OK program has phased into the IMPD CARES mentoring program.