Ron Carson Jr. was born and raised in Athens. He graduated class of 2014 from Cedar Shoals High School and spent a few years at Savannah State University where he majored in Mass Communications. He has always had an interest in graphic design and video production, and while a student at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School was introduced to photography, which he immediately fell in love with. When Ron returned to Athens after college, he was struck by the lack of publications centered around Black contributions and communities and decided to work to create a positive platform for that. With the encouragement of his mentors, friends, and family he launched Highlight Magazine in 2019, which, “advocates for and celebrates Athens’ Black communities.” In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of Highlight, Ron oversees the Marketing Communications Committee for the Northeast Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce and is a recent graduate of LEAD Athens. Ron lives in East Athens.
What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
It is definitely photography. It is creating the photos, being able to talk to somebody; it is a dance in a way. Creating a photo is a dance. I am taking the picture, but the person is also making the picture. You really get to see how people feel about themselves, how they feel about certain things when you are trying to get that still moment. That is the one thing that I really value in my position is being able to work with somebody and sit down and have a conversation about their story and their life, what work they are putting in and the things they are doing and being able to have that really large experience and then capture that one moment and then share that with other people. I like to tell people’s stories.
When you are not working, what are some of your favorite things to do in Athens?
A lot of what I do now these days is about how to build more sustainability and more things for my family. Outside of my work, I am working out . When I first started the magazine, my health was something that I really didn’t take care of and from then to now I have definitely transformed in my weight, my thinking and just trying to take care of those things. I am not really a social bird out there, you might not really catch me out on a Friday or Saturday night. A lot of the time it is a 6:00 A.M. workout, a 8:00 A.M. workout, work and everything in between. It is a routine. I go to hot yoga and get my yoga in. I’m thinking about: how do I get to that next level? Beyond that, my hobbies are reading books on how to make a better magazine. It is definitely trying to make Highlight all it can really be for the community.
If you could see any band or show, who would it be and where?
I would go to a Frankie Beverly & Maze concert. I would go with my dad. My dad passed away when I was 21. That was the very first concert that I went to and I could just never forget it. It was at the Wolf Amphitheater in Atlanta. If anybody knows Frankie Beverly & Maze they know what went down on the stage. I was young at the time and it was really something for me and my dad, and I got to see my dad really enjoy himself.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t take it personally. That is one thing that a lot of us have to work on, but I am definitely looking at myself and just telling myself don’t ever take what others say personally.
Do you have a favorite book, a book you find yourself rereading, referencing or gifting most often?
There are several. Right now I would say, The Promise and the Trust, by Jeff Snowden. That book along with another one of his books, and I am not lying to you, taught me how to make things different and not have to compromise on actual value. The people who would be listening would be able to build better relationships with customers and clients. Check it out!
Do you have a favorite movie or the first movie you saw in a theatre?
The Social Network. I could go back and watch that one a lot.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I think I would go to Jamaica. I have never been to Jamaica and that would be nice. Maybe that’ll be my 25th birthday present!
What is something interesting about you that maybe most people don’t know?
They might not know that I am half Trinidadian and half Black. I grew up in a household where I ate more curry chicken and oxtails than I did traditional soul food. When I grew up, I went to Trinidad a lot. I would spend some of my summers down there.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
Clarence Avant and it really doesn’t matter where. Any place you eat with Clarence Avant is a good place to eat. Because he is very motivational, he is very motivating and in tune with Black identity and Black culture. He has seen a lot of what it takes to really build something outside of entertainment, but still actually be a part of entertainment or be a factor of the entertainment industry before the Jay-Zs. Back when you had people like Bill Withers. He was a very diverse guy. I mean, he worked with Andrew Young and helped Hank Aaron give away more money with his nonprofit to people in the community than Hank Aaron was able to give away while he was playing baseball. He was a really cool guy (and I met his godson once!). He chose different things than what might have been the norm during his time.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Family, strength and solitude.