Close your eyes, and tell me what comes to mind when you hear: “rich…privilege…white?”
Okay, now, how about, “poor…black…athlete”?
Now, put those two together, and what comes to mind? How about GOOD FRIENDS?
You’re gonna love these two, partly because of their strikingly diverse backgrounds. As Evan put it, “I grew up the rich privileged white guy. Lorenzo grew up the poor black guy. He was the football star and I was the punter. He went to jail. I went to California. He became a wealthy rock star and I became poor waiter at a local steak joint.”
Both of these men are now forces for good throughout inner-city L.A. – in very different ways. You won’t want to miss the story of their friendship.
Blessed, Daring, Unconditional, Loyal, Aware, Protective, Caring, Aggressive, Talkative, Go_get_ter
Evan on Lorenzo. Lorenzo is the nicest scary guy I’ve ever met. The real drama of life story could be the backdrop 10 different movies. He has been through more ups and downs in his one life than anybody I’ve ever met. Yet for all he’s been through, all he wants to do is help make other people’s lives better.
Joyful, Converted Laker fan, Optimistic, Jesus follower, Non-religious, Lover of people, Raised in Flint, MI…before the water was bad, Family man, Encourager, Passionate Visionary & Dreamer
Lorenzo on Evan. Evan has A HEART OF GOLD!!! Evan showed me how we feel the same way about so many things in life, even though we come from two different worlds and backgrounds.
More Description of their Treasonous Friendship:
Lorenzo’s story is a powerful one of redemption. Having grown up in rough parts of urban Los Angeles and having achieved prominence in the drug trade in the 80’s, Lorenzo spent time in the penal system and has emerged as an influential community advocate, working on alcoholism and drug abuse prevention and gang intervention. He served previously as the chairman of the Section 8 committee in Los Angeles, and was recently appointed chair of the mental health commission of Los Angeles County.
Evan is an Evangelical Christian Pastor who has been working at the grass roots on these issues in the religious and political communities in the LA area since 1998. He has helped manage Republican political campaigns and has spent years organizing Republicans in Los Angeles County. In his own words, “I have felt the pain of misunderstanding, straight-out rejection from those on the opposite side of my views and values as well as from friends and those with whom I agree. I have the scars of failure as well as success. It has been a humbling journey for sure, but also a great joy to have met so many incredible people along the way.”
Evan and Lorenzo come from different worlds, but their shared passion for serving the vulnerable and connecting people across racial and political divides has brought them together with a foundation more important than what divides them.
Evan met Lorenzo on the streets of Watts. (in front of Jordan’s Cafe), while doing community service in inner-city Los Angeles. Both were later invited to a campaign strategy meeting for John Wood, a dear friend and african american conservative running for Congress. John was unique as someone who recruited from both sides of the isle, so they both supported his run in different ways.
After the campaign Lorenzo and Evan got together for the first Better Angels workshop in L.A. – designed to bring together both Republican and Democrat leaders to better understand one another and find common ground. As Evan put it, “That workshop helped us became more understanding of one another and how to work together to make a difference in this world .”
That’s just what Lorenzo and Evan have continued to do – building their own friendship over coffee and looking for more ways we can work together to serve their community together. That’s definitely one thing they have in common: “We both love our community and want to make things better.” Oh yes, and: “We are both political but don’t care about politics.”
So what have they learned? And what do they think of each other now? Lorendo says of Evan, “His optimism and vision blow me away. I am deeply honored to share any stage with this man any time, anywhere.”
For his part, Evan confesses, “I have to admit that usually I would have put a stigma on a person of his background. But after the different events we were able to work together on and realizing how we believe in the same values in life, I learned what a good man he was.”
Their Talk: “White and Privileged + Poor and Black = Good Friends?”
Evan and Lorenzo will give a blow-by-blow of how they came together, and why they ended up enjoying each other’s company! Through their story, they will discuss some of the real-life challenges of bridging these kinds of divides, even when people share common values. They will also share some insights and lessons from their work with Better Angels helping others bridge the same divides – and comment on what this all means for life in the U.S. today.
The time-space continuum to consider: Both Lorenzo and Evan are in L.A.
What the pair would need to come to your school: Two Lakers – Warrior Tickets, or negotiable!
Better Angels is a national citizens movement to reduce political polarization in the United States. Learn more about Better Angels and consider hosting a Red Blue Workshop, Better Angels Debate or Skills Training.