Errol Toulon Jr., who in November was elected the first African-American sheriff in Suffolk County history, remembers clearly the first time he realized what it means to be black.
He was 5 years old and news of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. came on television in his Bronx home. He recalls watching his mother, Alma, cry and his father, Errol Sr., console her.
He also remembers his parents talking about what King believed in and how he stood up for those beliefs — and how that was viewed by others, including law enforcement officers.
“I realized I could or can be looked at differently just because of the color of my skin,” Toulon, 55, said.
The realization didn’t deter Toulon from entering law enforcement, but it shaped his philosophy on how to interact with others.
“Going forward I’ve always been one to . . . try and treat people the way I would want to be treated,” he said.
Toulon’s life at home off the Grand Concourse in the South Bronx with his parents and younger brother, Anthony, was stable and family-centered. His father was strict, he said, and the boys were required to be home by a certain time. If they got a little too caught up in an after-school game of baseball or basketball, Toulon and his brother had to make a mad dash for home.| read more ››