Photo credit: Rich Fury/AP
The memory of the late Boris Lawrence Henson, father of award winning actress Taraji P. Henson, has inspired her to start a foundation of his same name aimed at eliminating stigmas around mental health that are widely held in the Black community.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will provide scholarships to African American students who aspire to major in mental health-related areas in college and offer mental health services to youth in urban communities and schools. Lowering African American recidivism rates is also a goal of the foundation as it relates to the commission of criminal acts and disrupting the ‘revolving door’ phenomenon of serving time in prison for such acts.
“I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues,” Henson shared with People Magazine.
Henson’s father was a Vietnam War veteran. Upon his return to the United States, he did not receive adequate physical or emotional support to help him cope with all that he had witnessed. He ultimately lost his battle to liver cancer in 2006.
The Henson Foundation will officially be launched on September 22nd. A fundraising event, affectionately called “Taraji’s Boutique of Hope,” will be held in Los Angeles. All proceeds will go towards funding scholarships and connecting social workers, therapists, and other mental health resources to urban communities and schools. Henson reflected, “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are Black."
Foundation Executive Director, Tracie Jenkins, shared with The Source Magazine, "African Americans have regarded such communication as a sign of weakness and our vision is to change that perception."