Black Diamond

Anthony Dodson AKA “Black Diamond”
Chairman & CEO

If there is a word in the dictionary to best describe Black Diamond, that word would have to be Perseverance! He is the CEO, founder, and inspirational leader of Endorse Peace!

Created following the Los Angeles Gang Truce Movement in 1992, Endorse Peace is a human rights organization that advocates non-violent solutions to some of the worlds most difficult challenges. It starts with the individual by encouraging them to endorse the concept of peace…not just as a philosophy, but as a way of solving problems! It then teaches specific tools and strategies to use that mindset and change one’s life, impacting the community at large. Endorse Peace starts from the inside and radiates outward, impacting everyone it touches in a life-changing way. But his creation has become so much more than an anti-gang movement. Endorse Peace has evolved into a human rights advocacy mission that is taking the concept of ‘peaceful resolution’ all around the world. And it all began with Black Diamond’s simple request…’Cease Fire!’

Hailing from South Central Los Angeles, Black Diamond came of age in the mid 1970’s, at the dawn of a new cultural movement sweeping the city following the 1965 Watts Riots. This dynamic environment was one that empowered African-American men in both positive and negative ways, leading some into the civil rights movement and others into gang life. Black Diamond was part of the original ‘Bloods’, who became nearly as well known as the city itself for their war with the ‘Crips’ street gang. Their early struggles for control of the South Central streets in many ways mirrored the war raging in Vietnam during that period. By the end of the 1980’s thousands of lives had been destroyed and an entire generation of men were displaced.

His story would have ended in an all too familiar tale had it not been for a group of school teachers, mentors, and life-changing events that made him alter his way of thinking. “On the day my daughter was born, I looked into her face and decided that I needed to put the guns down! I wanted to bring her up in a different world than the one that I came from”, he recounts. From that moment forward, Black Diamond began looking for ways to change his life.

By 1992, Black Diamond was a completely different individual, with family responsibilities and community work dominating his free time. Remembering his promise, he decided to go beyond his own life change and joined with local business leaders, public officials and other civic-minded individuals to form a non-profit organization, South Central LOVE. The group was committed to stopping the cycles of poverty, welfare, and violence that plague the nation’s inner-city areas. South Central LOVE (an acronym for Let Our Vision Educate), was joined in this effort by congresswoman Maxine Waters, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League John Mack, Los Angeles School Supervisor Barbara Brudouex, and actor/rap artist Ice-T.
Black Diamond began working with the artist and entertainment community-based in Los Angeles to help promote the organization’s goals. He also partnered with several individuals including Dick Griffy, founder of Solar records and attorney Virgil Roberts. This original movement morphed into the current organization now known simply as Endorse Peace! With the new name in hand, he empowered low-income communities by supplying schools with computer labs and educational software to further develop student computer literacy skills. Over the years it has grown to include gang prevention, peer to peer networks, academic mentorship, women’s programs, kids programs, counseling for inmates, and many other community-based initiatives.

Black Diamond also firmly believes that job creation and the ability to make a viable living must be an integral part of the equation. He reasons that if someone has the potential to become your customer, then you may no longer waste time dealing with him as an enemy. To that end, he crafted Endorse Peace into a retail apparel brand that is sold in stores, online and supported by many celebrities, athletes, politicians, and taste-makers. “If the kids think it’s cool to wear the gear, then maybe, just maybe the message will sink in”, he reasons.
Now in the second decade of his mission, Black Diamond is taking the Endorse Peace message around the world. He has come to realize that endorsing the concept of a peaceful resolution to any conflict, resonates just as effectively in the streets of Jerusalem, as the streets of South Central, LA. “Just like President Obama, I’m going city to city, ghetto to ghetto, and block to block taking this message everywhere I can”, he states enthusiastically. “If they can put the guns down and embrace love right here on the East and West side, then I believe they can do on the West Bank, East Africa, and every other East and West in this world! If you really stop and think about it, we are all from the same neighborhood!”