BIOGRAPHY: Charles Cheek – “You can’t go out screaming and hollering about a wrong or injustice, you have to get out and do something to make a difference and then folks will react and follow…that is when change occurs…AGITATE,ORGANIZE,EDUCATE”…this has been Charles’ guiding principle through life.
Born, raised and educated in the public schools in Newport News, Virginia. At an early age he assumed an activist role in addressing civil rights and world issues. During his teenage years, of activism, he was involved in voter registration campaigns, civil rights demonstrations, international affairs camps and marches in Virginia, North Carolina and was at the March on Washington in 1963. His parents, at the urging of his grandfather, the Rev. Gillis Cheek, Charles (as a teenager) was allowed to attend numerous political and world affairs camps and seminars.
Charles has a desire for learning, and this is still being exhibited in his later life. He states that when he enrolled in the various universities and was asked for what degree he was registering or seeking, his reply would be…”I am not interested in degrees, but I am seeking knowledge and information and therefore registering to get all the information I can…so, whatever degree you decide to give me, or not, at the end of the studies…the kindness will be accepted”. In his pursuit of knowledge and understanding he has attained and studied at Lincoln University (Pa.), George Washington University, Sojourner Douglas College, Liberty University and Lancaster Bible College. He was also part of a yearlong study in Biblical Worldview and Christian Apologetics with clergy, federal officials, college presidents, professors and business professionals from around the world.
He has been an entrepreneur, selling his businesses in Maryland prior to relocating back to Virginia in 2010. One of his businesses had the distinction of being the only minority business, of its type, east of the Mississippi River during its time. The business was featured in the National Geographic Magazine, the Washington Post, the Roanoke Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications.
Prior to his being an entrepreneur he served as the Assistant Director for Outreach and Minority Business Development for the Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Minority Business Enterprise; Senior Consultant with several consulting firms as a management trainer and a medical practice management consultant; Mortgage Loan Officer and Financial Counselor with Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore; Real Estate and Insurance Agent; and, a Detective with the Hampton Police Department and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam era.
Charles served, as an Associate Pastor at Third Baptist Church in Hampton, Va. from 2008-2010; and prior to returning to Virginia he had a street ministry while attending Maryland Church on The Rock, for many years, in the Baltimore area reaching out to substance abusers, prostitutes and the homeless to bring them hope and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. He was the Co-Pastor at Kingdom Builders Community Church, located in Hampton, Virginia (facility sharing with Memorial Baptist Church) until 2016.
He has been a radio talk show host in Virginia and Maryland; an editorial page columnist with a newspaper in Maryland; a community organizer and activist; has served many roles in the NAACP in Maryland (as a branch president and state coordinator for the criminal justice committee); a Presenter at National Minority Business Conferences in Massachusetts, Maryland and North Carolina; received a Gubernatorial Appointment to the Board of Nursing in Maryland, as a consumer representative; appointed to various boards by Mayors of Baltimore; he also served as the voter mobilization coordinator for a Presidential Campaign in Maryland for several congressional districts; and, a campaign manager and consultant for several local, state and national political campaigns in Maryland; has served on the Board of Directors of several organizations in Maryland and Virginia such as the Black United Fund of Maryland, the Citizens Boys Club in Hampton, Virginia, the Young Professionals of Tidewater; Allegany County League of Women Voters, MLK Faith Based and Community Initiatives, Inc., served on Board of Directors of H.E.L.P. Inc. (Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings and Provisions, Inc.), facilitator for a monthly Prayer Breakfast and a monthly gathering of Clergy in Fellowship; is a member of the Peninsula Pastors Council; and, was a contributing writer to the James River Journal and the Cumberland Times Newspapers.
He currently serves as the Community Networking Director for the Peninsula Baptist Association (peninsulabaptist.org) where he also co-facilitates a monthly Dialogue on Racism, Poverty and Violence that brings together clergy of various denominations, law enforcement and community leaders of various ethnic origins; serves as the Jobs for Life Catalyst/Coordinator for the Hampton Roads Virginia Region (7 cities). Charles, successfully completed the first Jobs For Life Train The Trainer Program and is coordinating and training instructors and developing sites in area churches and non-profits in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads region.
Charles was part of the first over 40 Cohort with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) which was a two-year study commitment with faith based leaders from across the United States; serves as area coordinator for the Hampton Roads CCD Local Network (https://ccda.org). In January 2018, he was the presenter to faith-based leaders nationally, on a webinar, for the U.S. Department of Justice on Juvenile Crime Prevention utilizing employment alternatives driven by the faith community. Also, co-presented on “Developing Community Partnerships” for the Hampton Police Department’s Ministers Police Academy.
Presented at the 2017 Courageous Conversations Conference in Rocky Mount, NC on “Community Engagement/Moving Beyond The Church Offering Plate”. In 2017 he organized, with his partners (the outreach coordinator with the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Office and the Hampton Roads Outreach Coordinator with the Office of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office), a series of “Community Explosions-Summer In The City” hosted at various churches to encourage and show churches how to become more relational in their surrounding neighborhoods and communities in Hampton…this effort has now expanded, in 2018, to Newport News, Yorktown and Williamsburg. As a result, he coordinated a monthly gathering of faith leaders in southeast Newport News to address issues related to economic sustainability for a flourishing community. Organized for the past 4 years MLK, Jr. Holiday projects in Hampton and Newport News.
Co-presented at the CCDA National Conference in Chicago a workshop on “Effective Community Engagement”. Co-presenting at the 2019 Virginia Volunteerism and Service Conference on “Effective Community Engagement: Models For Success”. Also, co-presented at the 2019 Conference in Dallas on “Deconstructing The Story of White”.
In 2019, he was chosen to be a City Network Leader for Made to Flourish Hampton Roads Area network. Made To Flourish is a national network equipping Pastors, Churches and Communities to Flourish. He also has a Radio Blog Program called “Front Porch Conversation on Justice” and has conversations with regional and national leaders on topics related to Social Justice.
(Presently, working with various youth organizations and churches in Hampton to develop sustainable programs in their neighborhoods and communities. Consulting with officials and groups about racial reconciliation issues. Participated on numerous panel discussions on race, religion, reentry and community engagement throughout the Hampton Roads area.)
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