by Mia Summerson
— Turing comedian Mike Epps visited Niagara Falls to give a performance at the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center on Friday evening, but before his show, he made a pit stop at the Doris Jones Resource Center.
oEpps says he, like many children, was bullied when he was younger. He even admits to having been the bully at one point or another. Now he is speaking out to help bring bullying in schools to an end.
“I’m living proof that you can make it out of that,” Epps said as he told his audience about his experiences with bullying when he was growing up.
Ernie Bivins, known around Niagara Falls as comedian “Black Ernie”, hosted the event. He is known in the community for being involved with raising awareness to not only bullying but also cancer.
Bivins, along with several other speakers including Mayor Paul Dyster, spoke for a few moments about bullying and the impact that it has on hundreds of thousands of youths across the country.
During his visit to the resource center, Epps received a key to the city from Dyster and Niagara Falls City Council Chairman Charles Walker.
“It’s a beautiful, kind gesture,” Bivins said. “(Epps’) message about anti-bullying is sincere, comedians are some of the realest people.” Bivins added that Epps was paid nothing to appear at the resource center. He did it because he wanted to.
The resource center’s auditorium was full, mostly with children down in front holding signs with phrases like “bullying is not a game” and “stop bullying now.” When Bivins asked them to make some noise if they were excited to hear from Epps, they all were clearly cheering as loud as they possibly could.
Epps came out and spent a few minutes talking to the kids about the importance of not being a bully and also about what they can do when confronted with a bully.
“Sometimes you have to just compliment a bully. I know it sounds crazy but just say ‘you look nice today,’” he said. “That bully could become your friend they’ll know that this is someone who can’t be bullied.”
After speaking, Dyster presented Epps with the key to the city, complete with a formal proclamation.
Dyster explained to the children that the tradition of awarding someone the key to the city went back to the Middle Ages when cities had walls around them. Being given a key to the city was to be seen as the highest honor, a symbol of trust.
Epps has appeared in 48 films to date including classics “Next Friday” and “The Hangover." He is credited not only as an actor, but as a writer and producer. His new film “Repentance” is due out Feb. 28.