Started by a FAMU grad, Lamplighters continue to grow

Photo courtesy Royle King II: Royle King II (Far right) and members of the Omega Lamplighters participate in a Graduation Step show.

Royle King II is a Florida A&M University alumnus and the founder of Omega Lamplighters, a youth leadership organization for young men in grades four through 12. The Omega Lamplighters has been a staple in the Tallahassee community since its inception in 2008 and continues to be one of the premier organizations that specialize in the betterment of young men.
The organization serves Leon, Wakulla and Jefferson counties where its mission is to empower youth with academic and social skills, community connections, and progressive opportunities necessary to ensure their roles as active, educated and responsible citizens.

It is founded on the principles of leadership, academics, maturity and perseverance. The Lamplighters have proven to be a shining light for many children in their growth to becoming young men.

Growing up in a house full of unique names, King has a twin sister named Majesty and an older sister named Princess. King has always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I have always been proud of my name,” said King. “I have wanted to take the name and the mantra to another level my entire life. My father was very impressive to watch and I always wondered how he was able to be so multifaceted.”

Photo courtesy Royle King II: Royle King II

Upon coming to FAMU, King was introduced to journalism by his local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. Through the journalism boot camp that was offered in his freshman year of high school, King was able to meet Cheryl Smith, who helped the Dallas native matriculate to the university.

“It was very competitive and I was all for it,” King said. “Mrs. Smith told me if I wanted to be the best that I had to come to FAMU. I knew about the school but I never knew everything that it would offer me and I decided to go into mentorship because of that relationship with her.”

King was also part of an organization called the Omega Sparks. The organization was a mentoring program within the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

King says that he was able to receive mentorship and see some of what it took to balance manhood as a young adult.

“I have always appreciated the importance of professionalism and life skills that make a man,” King said. “I always told the people around me that I was going to create a mentoring organization of my own to pay it forward and that is what I did 30 years later.”

King insists that through all of his success that he is not where he wants to be, so sometimes he does not give himself enough credit.

“I am still working and because I am still in the thick of it I sometimes don’t see the impact that it has,” King said. “In the rare moments where I have time to sit back and see what I am doing I have a sense of pride, because I am not finished. I don’t celebrate as much as I should but because I am still building I have not seen how far I have come.”

Former Lamplighter Shawn Holloway has noticed King’s work ethic throughout his time in Tallahassee.

“Brother King works tirelessly to make a way for the future of the Lamplighters,”  Holloway said. “He has been able to use his ingenuity to ensure that even during this pandemic that the Lamplighters are still striving for greatness.”

Knowing that people’s lives are being touched in a positive way is enough for King to feel the gratitude from his supporters. King says that his two ultimate goals are to have an impact on at-risk Black men and to create more exposure to the opportunities that community service provides.

Former Lamplighter Devonne Childs said that he was able to meet young men who had similar aspirations that helped him gain more friends.

“Being able to run into another Lamplighter was an honor,” Childs said. “It was apparent that if you were a Lamplighter you had the same goals and ideals. It was an experience that allowed me to stand out in a time where we were not well sought after.”

King said: “In every city that has a chapter of Omega Psi Phi, I would like for the Lamplighters to be there as well. We want to be on a nationwide scale and give these kids an opportunity to travel and meet other kids through this mentoring program. I often get calls asking if there will be more chapters and that is what we are working towards. I want to be in a position to help not only minority children but anybody who may need mentorship to save their life from heading in the wrong direction.”

King insists that people should go after their dreams unapologetically and they should not take no for an answer in order to be successful.

“Find out what your passion is and make a career out of it, it only takes one’s yes,” King said. “Remember that going after that joy is not just for you and in that passion lives the opportunity to provide a living for others as well as add on to your legacy.”

King continues to work for Leon County as the Volunteer Services manager and is still pushing for the Lamplighters to break the mold and pave the way for children around the world.