Like many 3- and 4-year-olds, DeWarren Langley loved to play school with friends when he was young. But his mother noticed that DeWarren always wanted to be the teacher. He took charge of the pretend classroom, instructing the other children.

“He made them sit down,” his mother Djuana Langley said, laughing. “They had to listen to him and learn from him.”

The boy clearly showed an early interest in leadership. Before he was even a teenager, he helped his cousin Angela Langley reach voters in her successful campaign for Durham City Council.

In 2001, the Indy honored DeWarren Langley as a Citizen Award winner for founding a nonprofit group that gave teenagers an advisory role with elected officials of the city, county and school district.

Langley was just 17 then. He had grand aspirations: to run for public office and one day to be elected the first African-American president of the United States.

Not everything turned out exactly the way he envisioned. But Langley is still influencing lives and public processes. Here’s a look at his life then and now.

College Plans

THEN: Langley wanted to attend Morehouse College to major in public policy and American history.

NOW: Langley’s résumé looks different than he planned. He ended up choosing Hampton University, where he majored in business management and economics.

Pet Project

THEN: While just a junior in high school, Langley founded Teens Politically Active, a nonprofit organization with long-term goals to establish youth groups to advise city and county governments.

NOW: Now attending law school at N.C. Central University, Langley coordinates a mentoring program for undergraduates who want to go to law school. He and other mentors teach them how to apply, how to get financial aid and scholarships and how to be successful students. Langley also was recently appointed to the Durham Civilian Police Review Board.


THEN: His mother, Djuana. She has raised seven children, including four of her nieces and nephews, on her single income as a housekeeper for Duke University.

NOW: His mother, Djuana. She instilled a sense of service in her children. Even though she had many mouths to feed at home, she wouldn’t let someone in the neighborhood go hungry, Langley said.

Giving Back

THEN: When he was 14, DeWarren Langley joined a program for teens in the West End neighborhood called Partners For Youth. The program paired him with mentors to ensure he had support in his personal and academic life, as well as career direction.

NOW: Partners for Youth is now 12 years old, and Langley is now chairman of its advisory board.


THEN: “The only people that truly understand the problems that youth face are youth themselves.”

NOW: “We have an obligation to prepare the next generation of leadership.”

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