It’s February! During this month there are many celebratory events, including the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, and we show love to our February birthdays. But there is only one event that is celebrated for the entire month, and that is Black History Month. Some may say Black History is not just a month, it is every day. In this month, we get to reflect and learn about African American public figures who have broken barriers and made an impact on their community and society. We will always respect, honor and show appreciation to Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Katherine Johnson and many more for what they did for the Black race and the entire world. I believe there are Black hidden figures in every community who are making a difference for people who look just like them, but they may not ever be recognized or awarded for the work that they do.
I would like to shine a light on a hidden figure, who is a leader in his own right, a public servant to his community and who happens to be a cool family member of mine. Officer Armonde “Moe” Badger is a police officer for the Buffalo Police Department in Buffalo, New York. He is a native of Buffalo and he reps his city unashamedly across his chest. Badger is a husband, father of four and soon-to-be grandfather. Becoming a police officer was never a part of his plans; it was something that just unexpectedly happened, and he has been thriving in the workforce ever since. Officer Badger has been a positive representation for his community and especially for young kids, changing the narrative and estranged relationship between police officers and the Black community. Officer Badger reveals that there are many challenges as a Black police officer.
“I enjoy my job, but if I had to give the main challenge, it is sometimes being stereotyped, even as an officer, by racism in our department.”
It’s unfortunate to be labeled because of another officer's past mistakes of being racially insensitive, but that does not stop Officer Badger from being a light and changing the police culture in his department.
Last year, the pandemic soared through with a whirlwind of unexpected curve balls. Plans were changed and places were shut down. We had to become accustomed to the “new normal.” We all know essential workers were definitely needed during this pandemic, whether they were a nurse, police officer, grocery store worker, mailman, or a custodian. Their time and deeds did not go in vain during this tough time. Last November 2020, The E! People’s Choice Award aired their virtual award show. This award show is one of a kind compared to others because fans/supporters have the power to vote for the nominees they would like to win. This year, not only actors and musicians were recipients of awards, but they shined a light on some essential workers who sacrificed their time to help the greater good of their communities.
The People’s Choice Awards took advantage of the opportunity and was able to give honor to whom honor is due. Public service workers including firefighters, police officers, and medical workers were some of the service men and women who were highlighted because of their efforts. This year, surprisingly, my cousin Officer Badger was honored during this special night because of the work him and his partner, Michael Norwood, have demonstrated in their community. He was surprised like the majority of his family and friends, and he thought it was a local people’s choice awards in his city. Officer Badger is the kind of individual to whom lending a helping hand is like second nature, and while on duty at a protest, he broke out into song and the video circulated around social media. This video got the attention of the People's Choice Awards Committee. Receiving this “stardom” type attention for his good deeds is not the first for him. While being humble and grateful for this opportunity, making an appearance on a national televised show was not unfamiliar territory for him. Last year, Badger and his partner had the pleasure to appear on the Ellen Show. This duo became internet famous around their city as the “Singing Cops” when a video of them went viral of the duo singing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran in a Buffalo restaurant.
Their impromptu singing caught the attention of many in their city including local news stations, city officials, and of course numerous Buffalonians. Along with the accolades and support, this became a way to expand their platform in their community. Mentoring the youth is very important to them.
Badger states, “Mentoring the youth in my city means everything to me. I've literally been doing it since I was 19 years old and 22 years later I am still doing it and love it more and more each day.”
In 2016, they founded C.O.P.S.S. (Children Overcoming Police Stereotypes Through Sports), a program geared towards the youth in the city to build the bridge between cops and young men and women. Appearing on the Ellen Show, the singing duo was recognized for their kind acts. They received a check for $10,000 for their foundation to continue to support at-risk youth. Never in his wildest dream did Officer Badger think he would be in this position, especially as a police officer.
“I never really saw myself being a police officer to be honest, but I wanted to make sure my community had somebody they trusted that was in uniform in our city, so I tried to be that person.”
While Covid-19 has sucked the life out of everything for some people, essential workers like my cousin Armonde did their best to protect, serve, and help people survive during these unprecedented times, and his service did not go unrecognized. His passion for the youth and building relationships with them to change the narrative of how police officers are viewed is honestly inspiring because of the lasting impact it can have on a young person when they see and know someone truly cares about them. His interpersonal skills and selflessness is a radiant light of influence in a career field with a negative connotation associated with it. Keep doing what YOU are doing Officer Moe; it is changing the hearts of many that you cross paths with. Even though Officer Badger hasn’t done anything history making yet, he is an intentional and influential figure to his family, community, coworkers, and friends.
To see more of the BPD officers who are singing to change the narrative, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljAO8v11VYc&feature=youtu.be.