Stephen Alexander participating in a solo skydive jump for
Father’s Day at Tecumseh Skydive in 2015.
LANSING, MI — Stephen Alexander is a man of many talents. He is a husband, father, an expert certified firearms instructor, an award winning Latin dance instructor, ex-Marine, community leader and activist.
Alexander says, “My upbringing taught me what not to do but provided few Black role models of what I aspired to be. My father taught me what not to do as a father myself.”
He was raised in Chicago, IL by a single mother and experienced physical and emotional trauma, hunger and housing insecurity throughout most of his childhood. As a child, he thought it was normal to move every 18-24 months, eat Miracle Whip sandwiches, and get ‘whoopins and cussed out for my misdeeds, whether real or perceived.’
As an adult, he now understands that his home environment was the product of the abuse his mother experienced at the hands of her father. He also now understands that the undiagnosed and untreated traumatic brain injury that his father sustained in the Army led to the unfortunate start of his life.
Alexander says, “My father’s injury led to my parent’s divorce when I was still a baby and the extreme poverty that my mom, sisters, and I lived in throughout our childhood. I have this memory that I remember sitting on the stairs outside watching a rat chew his way through the fence.”
These meager and painful beginnings made Alexander acutely aware of the huge impact of poverty on a family and his father’s absence fueled his commitment to not be like him as a man or a father.
“Abuse and poverty created a deep-rooted self-determination and self-reliance. By the time I was 11-years-old, I was catching crawfish and selling them to fishermen at the Jackson Park Inner Harbor in Chicago. At 12-years-old, I made a few bucks over the summer as a caddy at the Jackson Park Golf Course off of Lakeshore Drive. At the age of 13-years-old, I started my first business,” reflected Alexander. “Looking back, it would have been considered a subscription-based service business because I convinced a couple of my neighbors to pay me $20 a month to keep their walkways cleared of snow. In the summer of 1988, I had my first official summer job. My mom called in a favor with her hairdresser who also owned a restaurant that catered to a mostly Black clientele in downtown Chicago called Soul By the Pound. At 14-years-old, I was proud to take 3 buses and the Chicago “L” (short for elevated train) to get there every day and earn money for myself and my family.”
Hard work has always been familiar to Alexander. And while he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early, he lamented that his dis-ease with employment took a couple of decades to fully manifest as he prioritized family and stability over everything he had been through in his life.
Alexander graduated from Proviso West High School in Hillside, IL in 1991. A year later, at the age of 19 and with a baby on the way, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and discovered that he was a protector.
He says, “We take an oath to protect the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic in the military. The message of being a shield for the United States was ingrained in me during bootcamp and beyond. I realized that I regret that I was not able to be a shield for my mother. However, I was a shield for my sisters growing up. My job is still to protect.”
Boot camp was challenging but fun and was the first time Alexander held a rifle (a M16A2 Service Rifle with iron sights). He qualified as a Sharpshooter (the 2nd highest designation) and a few years later, as a Non-Commissioned Officer, he again qualified as a Sharpshooter with the Beretta M9 service pistol. In 2001, after 9 years of service to his country, he was honorably discharged, three months before the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Throughout his time in the Marine Corps, Alexander had side hustles like cutting hair on weekends while stationed in Okinawa, Japan and network marketing companies (from Amway in 1998 to Bitcoin in 2017). Network marketing is where he began to understand concepts like working smart, not just hard, residual income, multiple income streams, and the phrase, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.” It is also where he realized his passion for teaching, coaching, and instructing.
After 9 years in corporate America as a project/program manager, the Great Recession hit Alexander hard in 2009. He lost his job in Austin, Texas and the lifestyle that went with it. Within 18 months, he became a certified, personal trainer and Latin Dance Instructor after moving to Michigan. While fulfilling, they were not huge money makers, but they allowed him to complete his BS in Business Management, hone his presentation and communication skills, and meet some incredible people along the way—some of which continue to be his closest friends.
After a brief stint as a Computer Technician for the Michigan State Police and Michigan State University, he hung up the employee badge for good and started a medical billing service. As the business side of his wife’s, Dr. NiCole Buchanan’s, mental health practice boomed, taking on the billing and managerial responsibilities was a solid and logical move for the family. Then in March of 2020, the world came to a screeching halt, and most people either stopped seeing their therapist completely or switched to virtual sessions.
Alexander says, “I felt the winds shifting again and this time, I was in the middle of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest. It was not my first protest, but it was the first time I felt the need to be armed and I was not the only one. You see, I am not a “gun nut”! A gun nerd…YES, a self-defense geek…YES. A protector….ALWAYS!”
In 2020, many people in the Black community came face to face with the vulnerability of being a minority AND an unarmed target; at the exact same time that the heavily armed majority was increasing their public displays of angst and armed aggression.
Alexander says, “This did not sit well with me and I needed to do something about it. While I have always been the firearms subject matter expert in my home and immediate family, in the summer of 2020, I connected with other Black men and women in the 2A (2nd Amendment) sphere and began my formal firearms instructor journey.
Within 6 months, Alexander earned instructor certifications from both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO), completed Intermediate and advanced firearms and Executive Protection training at the renowned Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.
He was elected Vice President of the Malcolm Little Gun Club, which is the Lansing chapter of the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA). He then established a partnership with fellow protector, Greg Richardson, to expand Velocity Security Solutions into the Executive and Community Protection arena, founded A-Team Tactical which is a one stop shop for all things Firearms Training, and recently added Certified Range Safety Officer, Certified Taser Instructor, and Certified Advanced Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Instructor to his credentials.
Alexander says, “As a firearms instructor, I have provided almost 200 students with the necessary skills and knowledge to apply for their Michigan CPL. As a Security Specialist, I have been contracted to ensure organizations like BLM, Voices of Color, Black Voters Matter, and the Poor People’s Campaign can hold their protests, rallies, and community outreach events securely, safely and without incident. Coupled with the wise counsel and leadership of Mujahid Abdul-Hameed, who is the President of Malcolm Little Gun Club, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the organization grow exponentially in membership, infrastructure, and vision.”
Of all Alexander’s pursuits and passions, nothing feels more natural to him than his role as a protector. As a Marine, he swore an oath to defend the “ideals” of the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He said he had no idea that the greatest threats would be domestic.
“Nevertheless, I remain resolute in my commitment to my family, my community, and my country, to build a world, for my 6 children, 4 grandchildren and our future lineage, that is safer, more inclusive, and more just than the one I grew up in. Semper Fi!,” says Alexander.
For more information, you may email Alexander at [email protected] You may also find A-Team Tactical on Facebook www.facebook.com/ATEAMTACTICALMI. To contact him by telephone, his number is 517.881.0675.