TUPELO – Kentrel Boyd has a vision for Tupelo that borders on biblical proportions.
If elected mayor, the Democratic candidate said he will inspire residents. He will teach them to help themselves out of poverty and despair by giving them education and access to computers.
New businesses will open, people will find work, and Tupelo will become a technological hub and a model city – not just for the region but for the world.
“We don’t have to wait on Toyota,” Boyd said. “We can do it ourselves.”
The vision might seem lofty, but Boyd believes it with conviction. His whole life, he said, has prepared him for this mission, even though he didn’t always realize it.
Boyd was born in January 1971 in Aberdeen to Mandolyn and Leon Boyd Jr. His parents divorced when he was 1, and his mother raised him and his sister with the help of extended family in the area.
His father, a preacher and furniture-store owner, moved to Houston, Texas, but continued to visit the children and remained an active part of their lives.
Art became the true love of Boyd’s young life and occupied much of his time. It also led him to the Art Institute of Houston in Texas, where he studied graphic design after high school.
“I’ve been an artist since kindergarten,” he said. “While the other kids were sleeping, I was the one doing banners for the hallway.”
When he was 10, Boyd went to live with his father in Houston, but quickly discovered life there was harder. Academics were more challenging, and he missed his mother. He moved back to Aberdeen the next year but didn’t stay long.
Boyd returned to Houston the summer before high school. He was supposed to remain only a few months to help with the family business. But months turned into years; Boyd didn’t come back permanently to Northeast Mississippi until 2001.
‘A very spiritual person’
Although he’s private about his reasons for returning home, he said God played a large role in the decision. God, it turns out, plays a role in much of Boyd’s life.
“I’m a very spiritual person,” he said. “I allow God to show me the visions that I’ve seen my whole life.”
Some of the most recent visions pointed him toward a run for mayor, first as a Republican in 2005 and now as a Democrat. Boyd said he resisted the idea at first but eventually put his trust in a higher power.
He said he realized that much of his life had readied him for the job and that God had a hand in that, too.
People have always come to him for help and advice, Boyd said. And he’s always been able to provide it, not just by doing but by teaching. That, combined with a knack for communicating, led him to become a motivational speaker and emcee.
It also helped him run the Tupelo branch of a nonprofit military-aid group called Operation Interdependence, and it helped him launch his own nonprofit called Save a Mind Foundation, which taught confidence and common sense to at-risk kids. It’s now defunct.
Boyd said he used his skills for numerous purposes before turning his sights to politics, but now it’s his life goal. And while he’d one day like to have a wife and family, the candidate said politics takes a front seat to all else.
“I have always had a vision of being a politician,” Boyd said, “of speaking to large groups of people, of being a leader of the people.”
But a mayoral win is just the first stop for Boyd, who called it a stepping stone in what he hopes will become a long and powerful political career. He said he’d like to be governor of Mississippi one day, and maybe even president.
Boyd described himself as forthright and confident. He likes to help people and consistently seeks opportunities for learning and growth. If it’s not challenging, he’s not interested, he said.
Life indeed has been challenging for Boyd recently. He lost his home to foreclosure last year. And since announcing a run for mayor this year, the candidate has had his residency challenged, his Democratic allegiance questioned, and his three-year-old job as a Nettleton school resource officer terminated.
Through all of it, Boyd perseveres. He said these experiences make him closer to the people and help him understand the daily struggles of the common man. They will make him a better mayor, he said.
“Adapt and overcome,” Boyd said, “that’s what I always say.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal