Black Men Run: The Next Generation by Ashley Toussaint
We call him Dubee, but do not let the name fool you. Dubar Smalls, Jr. came to us 5 years ago. Kovon Flowers, captain of Black Men Run New York City is a good friend of Dubar’s parents; Shawanda and Dubar, Sr. They happened to be looking for a place for their son; to foster his special gift. One day, they brought him to our Sunday run in Prospect Park. During our weekly workouts, we go through a regiment of drills, stretches and a 3.5 mile run. On his first day, Dubar completed everything, with no complaints. Definitely one of the most impressive 10 year old I have been around.
From the onset, I saw his potential. He did not run, he glided. His natural stride and bounce was God-given. It was only a matter of time before he emerged as one of our strongest runners. The wiry kid from Brevoort Houses in Bed-Stuy had no fear when it came to running. He pushed us all to be stronger runners. Dubar never backed down from a race against any of us. He even inspired his father, Dubar, Sr. to begin running, something that he had never done before.
Dubar improved with each race. He quickly moved up to our A-group, which is for the most advanced runners. At track nights, he set the pace, running 6-minute repeat miles and leading the pack. In 2015 he ran the Bed-Stuy 5k won his age group, while finishing in the top 10. That same year he placed 2nd in his age group at the Millrose Game in the 800 meters. The following year he finally won it.
I always said, “Wait until he actually grows into his frame. He’s going to be a problem.” One Sunday morning, we were closing out a workout at Prospect Park with our group creed, “My Brother’s Keeper.” It was Dubar’s turn to lead us, but I didn’t recognize his voice. His voice had changed. He was no longer hiding playfully under our hands, looking up at our palms. He was now standing shoulder-to-shoulder and eye-to-eye with us.
Our youngest member does not just excel as a runner, but he is also an excellent student. Each marking period he is sure to make the honor roll, while running for his school and neighborhood track club. We were all proud and excited for him to go on to high school, to continue on his run journey. But in the fall of his freshmen year, he suffered a severe knee injury while running through his neighborhood. He was simply running to meet up with some friends, when he stepped on an uneven slab of the sidewalk, fell and fractured his kneecap. The injury sat him out for the entire fall, winter and spring. He missed out on his freshmen track season and the 2019 fall race season.
Well, the kid from Brevoort has no fear. He never backs down from a challenge. And this was no different. For months he went to rehab and pushed himself to get back to what he loves more than anything; running. Though his freshman year was marred with injury, we look forward to what lays ahead. In the world of COVID-19, we are not sure when he will get a chance to showcase his talents again. Nonetheless, Dubar looks forward to making his high school track debut in the mid-distances at Eagle Academy High School in Brooklyn.
We are honored to have Dubar within our circle of brotherhood. He is not just a runner to us, he is our son. His success is our success. His struggles are our struggles. He is the shining example of what our black boys become; with love, support and guidance. We have helped raise a boy into a young man. Throughout his time with us, Dubar has run countless races, has run thousands of miles, has been ranked among some of the best runners in his age group and his potential is through the roof.
Today Dubar continues to run with Black Men Run New York City. He is now taller than most of us and is the future of our healthy brotherhood. When asked what he wants to do outside of running, he said, “I’m interested in going into business.” I followed up and asked what type of business? He replied, “I’d like to start my own running company.” That makes perfect sense. We must continue to pour into his life, so that he can lead the next generation of Black Men Run. The seeds have been sown. Now we just get to watch him grow. The future is bright for Black Men Run.
Be on the lookout for Dubar Smalls, Jr., the next generation of Black Men Run.