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Episode 14: Either You Win or Learn with LeRon Barton

LeRon Barton shares how a girlfriend breaking up with him was the catalyst for his Courage Up Moment to backpacking through Central America. He’s a writer and speaker LeRon Barton sharing his story of courage, talking Black Lives Matters, and how men can be an ally for women.

About LeRon

LeRon L. Barton is a writer and speaker from Kansas City who lives in San Francisco, Ca. He has authored two books “Straight Dope: A 360 Degree Look Into American Drug Culture” and “All We Really Need Is Love: Stories of Dating, Relationships, Heartbreak, and Marriage. LeRon has also published essays and articles about race, mass incarceration, politics, and dating. He has appeared in Al Jazeera, TEDx, Salon, Your Tango, Black Enterprise, The Good Men Project, Speakers Who Dare, and Raconteur. LeRon believes that as a writer, one of his responsibilities is to create, be honest, and encourage others to do so. He is a story advocate who believes everyone’s story counts and we should all share them.

LeRon loves to learn. One of the things he realized when he was watching the debate between Dr. Bill Nye and the creationistKen Ham, Dr. Bill Nye said “I’m always looking for my theories to be disproven because I want to know the truth.” If my theory is not true and he comes across another theory applicable to now, he’ll go with the new. Sometimes theories can be outdated.

Courage Up Moment

In January of 2012, his then girlfriend broke up with him. A couple days before that, he was laid off from his job. He was feeling really sorry for himself, and wasn’t really productive. He asked himself what makes him happy. Two things: writing and traveling. He backpacked through Central America and wrote his book. That’s the moment he decided to choose himself.

He also credits his ex-girlfriend as being one of the catalysts to change his life. If she didn’t break up with him, he might not have gone on that trip. When you take a chance on yourself, you’ve already learned.

Keep Taking Chances On Yourself

Everything builds on everything. He views life like a snowball. At the top it starts off small, as it rolls it gets bigger and bigger. Things might not go your way the first time. If you have a goal or something you really want, go for it. Your quest for victory has to be bigger than your fear of defeat. Consistently try to search for it.

TEDxWilson Park Experience

As a writer, he writes about personal things. One of the things he never talked about was his stutter. He kept that close to his chest. He applied to a few TEDx places and got accepted at Wilson. Park. He ended up going to Alabama for the TEDx, met his amazing speech coach Mary Marshal and she helped him work on his speech. He decided to talk about the most personal thing in his life which was stuttering.

His stutter is such a small part of who he is. It’s a handicap, and there were times where he did let it stop him, however, he believed he could do anything he wants and he goes for it.

Being A Black Man in America Never Feels Safe

Being a Black Person in America is a very tenuous thing. You’re viewed negatively automatically. Race always has to be in the front of your mind: what restaurant to go to, the tone of your voice. He wanted to write a piece illustrating where he was at at the time, specifically to Black men.

When you share your perspective, it gives people a new perspective or people feel like someone has gone through it too. The slogan Black Lives Matters means my life as a Black person is just as important as your life. When you're preaching to the choir, your views are not challenged. You want to get to a point where you views are challenged.

Be A Better Male Ally

  1. Advocate for those not in the room.

  2. Give a woman space to talk. Include her.

Dislike of Racial Conversation

One thing LeRon does not like about having racial conversation is having to coddle white people. White people don’t need to be coddled. After his big trip, one thing he stopped doing was code-switching. He decided I am who I am and that takes too much effort.


Don’t let fear or failure deter you from your goals.


“Self-doubt has no place in your mind”

Courage Song:

My Shot by Hamilton

Nobody Stop Me Now by Queen


The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Connect With LeRon:

Instagram: LeRon Barton

Facebook: LeRon Barton

Connect With Ming:

Instagram: @mingshelby

Facebook: Ming Shelby

Listen to songs on the Courage Up Playlist!

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