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Today, the world will officially pay their final respects to a friend, mentor, brother, father, son, musical genius and role model. Dwight Errington Myers, known better as Heavy D or “Hev” to his family, was one of those rare individuals who not only possessed natural, unfiltered talent, but someone who used his notoriety to uplift others both through his music and in his everyday life. He made us dance, party, have fun, but equally as important, he never degraded women or promoted violence. In today’s overly glorified culture of guns, drugs and mayhem, we need more like Heavy D. And our community needs more examples like him at a time when so many of our youth are bombarded with negative images and have lost the ability to value human life.

Take note: we must uplift ourselves, not set us back.

See Also: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Heavy D

Heavy D’s sudden death at the age of 44 caught many of us off guard. But the sad truth is that nobody knows when it’s his/her time to go. And when that moment comes, how many of us can truly be proud of what we’ve done in this life? How many can say we served as role models for others? How many can say we did things that the community can be proud of and that benefited people outside of ourselves? Heavy D’s life example isn’t only for rappers or entertainers, but for all of us. Each and every one of us will be held accountable for what we do in this lifetime – let’s make sure we spend our days with integrity.

It’s no coincidence that Heavy D’s funeral today took place at Grace Baptist Church (my own Church for the past 5 years) in his hometown of Mt. Vernon, NY. Acknowledged as much for his appreciation of strong Black women as he was for his music, Heavy D’s messaging and life’s work were right in line with Grace Baptist’s own unique history.

Founded in 1888 by ‘five Negro Baptist women’, the Church has a long legacy of honoring the strength, wisdom and spirit of the Black female – just as Heavy did in his own way. Making tracks like ‘Black Coffee’ and others as an ode to the power of Black women, Heavy D made it hip and cool to praise us, not denigrate us. If only we had more people today who would learn to do the same.