It’s homecoming season, and Peace Corps diversity recruiter Dwayne Matthews may be coming to an HBCU or barbershop near you.

Matthews, a graduate of HBCU Norfolk State University, recently told The Daily Press of his efforts to visit 10 historically Black colleges and barbershops throughout October.

The trips are part of a grassroots effort to meet people “in spaces and communities where they feel the most comfortable," he said.

Started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps travels to developing countries to offer volunteer services and introduce people to Americans. However, the organization's diversity demographics have not been reflective of the nation as a whole. Last year, only 31 percent of volunteers identified as an ethnic or racial minority. In 2009, only 7 percent of members who identified as minorities were African-American.

"I’m certain that I was the first African American male that my Malawian community had ever met. Honestly, they thought I was a rapper. Whenever I introduced myself as Dwayne, the follow-up question was usually, 'Oh, do you know Lil Wayne?' Matthews wrote in an article about his volunteer work as a community health advisor in Malawi.

"[I won't] completely change the landscape of diversity and inclusion for Peace Corps,” he told The Daily Press. “However, I think it’s a major milestone.”

Matthews has five stops left on his tour, including Hampton University and Just Earl Barbershop in Hampton.


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