John Jenkins, Maine's first Black state senator and mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn, led a remarkable life and his influence extended far beyond his politics and his constituents. He was a four-time world champion in karate and through his business PEP (Personal Enrichment Programs) Talk he gave individuals and organizations the tools for change based on stories and lessons fostering community and the interdependence of mind and spirit. And he was a talented puppeteer who used puppets in presentations to schools throughout Maine. He loved stories, and used them to lower barriers between himself and the largely white audiences of his adopted state.
This moving biography by John's friend and Bates College classmate, Chuck Radis, reminds us all of Jenkins' generous spirit and of his contributions to our state. He gave us lessons we would all do well to remember.