HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Ben Butler, Jr. earns his living cutting hair, but it's what he does in and out of his barber shop that is changing young lives.
The buzz from a loud pair of clippers is the sound you hear at the door that lets customers know that Ben's Bone Cuts is open for business. Meaningful and sometimes idle chatter offers another clue that the shop is open.
"You can't get nowhere without that education," said Butler to a boy whose hair he was cutting.
Butler has been cutting hair for 18 years. He's one of only a handful of certified African American barbers in Hancock County who owns his own shop. He says his profession has given him a chance to influence a lot of young lives.
"School is always number one. We all love sports, but school comes first," said Butler as he continued to cut the boy's hair.
Butler has been a volunteer coach for a little league football team for the past six years.
"I really like the aspect of giving kids advice when they are young and really being able to put an imprint into their life, and that's what brought me into coaching youth football," explained Butler.
"I can say not only does he say those types of things. He puts his money where his mouth is. Ben promotes and puts his money behind events in the community. He's sponsored several events that I know of, some for the NAACP and some for other organizations," said Greg Barabino, President of the Hancock County NAACP.
Butler has even given haircuts to rap super-stars Bone Thugs N Harmony.
"Been able to go on tour with them all the way down to infants getting their very first haircut," explained Butler.
"Hello everybody. This is the Revolution Barber Shop with Ben and Ben. I'm Ben Christmas and I'm Ben Bone. I hope everybody is having a good and blessed day. Let's get it started with a Bible verse."
Those were the opening words for a radio talk show Butler cohosts. Butler's words of wisdom are now being broadcast throughout the Hancock County community and beyond on a weekly radio show on WBSL.
On the day WLOX News Now was videotaping, the duo focused on the local water quality. The topic was inspired by the tap water crisis in Flint, MI.
"As a parent, your number one thing is to protect your kid, and if you can't protect your kids from the water coming out of the faucet. That should be something you don't need protection from," Butler said during the broadcast.
Butler credits his father, the late Benjamin Butler, Sr., a long-time educator, with teaching him to inspire the next generation.
"My dad taught at Pass Middle School, and every year, the school gives away the Benjamin Butler Award. I'm so honored every year to present it to the student in my dad's name," said Butler.
The Benjamin Butler Award is given to the student who has worked hardest to pull their grades up.