By Barney Blakeney
Excelling to greater heights has been a life model for Dr. Kylon Middleton. He attended Charleston County public schools and graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications at the age of 18. He received graduate and advanced degrees from: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – Columbia; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Duke University – Durham, North Carolina then went on to stellar careers in education as a teacher, administrator and as a member of the clergy. Middleton is a candidate for the Charleston County Council Dist. 6 in the June 9 primary election. He will put his training and experience to work for Charleston County residents as a member of Charleston County Council.
Middleton currently is pastor of Historic Mount Zion AME Church on Glebe Street in downtown Charleston at the heart of the College of Charleston campus, his alma mater. He began his professional career in the Office of Admissions at the College of Charleston. After leaving the College, he had a meaningful career in education, during which he taught high school English in Charleston County. He served as an assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator in public school systems in South Carolina and North Carolina before his retirement in 2014.
“My experiences in organizational leadership and administration, both as a school administrator leading dynamic complex organizations and as a pastor leading large congregations, have provided me with the skill sets, disposition and knowledge base to be an effective member of County Council,” Middleton said. “In both administrative worlds, I have been a leader in systemic organizational change as it relates to climate and culture, making, shaping and crafting policies that are inclusive, fair, and equitable which have moved those organizations towards continuous improvement outcomes making them stronger.”
Middleton continues to enjoy a successful pastoral career having served as a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church for over 29 years. He is leading the Mount Zion congregation in a multi-million dollar restoration, renovation, and expansion project and is breathing new life into the congregation with a clear focus on racial healing, reconciliation, and transformation.
Middleton said, “I’m running because we need strong moral leadership on Charleston County Council. It is my hope to be a committed leader with a bold plan to improve traffic and transportation, invest in infrastructure, facilitate action now to secure affordable housing opportunities for all our citizens, and to manage the COVID-19 recovery as we make sense of our lives post pandemic.”
Middleton is extremely active in the Greater Charleston community. For three years, he has led the City of Charleston’s Illumination Project. He is the YWCA Tri-County MLK Ecumenical Chairperson, Charleston 350th Community Outreach and Service Committee Chairperson, a member of the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, a member of the Coastal Community Foundation Grant-making and Leadership Committee, The Charleston Forum Board of Directors, President of the Beta Mu Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., WM of Boaz Lodge No. 309 F&AM PHA, member of Progressive Chapter No. 310 OES, a member of the Robert B. Elliott Chapter No. 1 Holy Royal Arch Masons PHA, and a member of the George Washington Carver Consistory No. 162.
That experience, wisdom, moral turpitude and focus Middleton will bring to Charleston County Council as the Dist. 6 representative. Strong moral leadership through collaboration and experience are among the attributes he will employ. In addition to his ability to promote morally and financially sound business practice on the council, Middleton also brings the ability to help bridge racial divides.
“After the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church, where I lost a loved one, the work of race relations, racial healing and transformation became a part of my life’s work. As a member of the Charleston Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, I have worked tireless to host the “Living Your Truth” series where members of the community are engaged in a robust panel discussion around the contrasting issues of race, class, gender, and other areas where individuals have been marginalized, minimized, discriminated against, or excluded based on factors that they cannot control,” he said.
His membership as a Charleston County Councilman won’t represent business as usual.
“We must have an ethical core, a moral compass on county council that makes us do the right thing,” he said. “I’m retired from a career in education and I’m serving as the faith leader of a successful congregation. I don’t owe anybody and don’t plan to. I can’t be squeezed or compromised. I know I can bring that to county council because I’ve done it all my life!”
Two other things Middleton will make priorities as a member of county council are bringing greater resources to communities such as Lincolnville which previously have been marginalized. And he wants to ensure that federally designated Opportunity Zones serve the residents of those communities. He pointed to continuing efforts to focus on the need for minority businesses to include Charleston International Airport.
“My experiences have given me a depth of knowledge, empathy, and awareness of the issues which affect citizens in Charleston County. That makes me a better public servant. I have learned to listen more, hear and acknowledge the realities of others. I am moved as a leader to do something to be a voice for those whose voices are not being heard,” Middleton said.