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A home-grown hero’s commitment to giving back

Published on February 15, 2024

A home-grown hero’s commitment to giving back

June Archer shares personal history

June Archer
June Archer

"I don’t like to think of what I do as work,” said entrepreneur June Archer to an audience of students at Eastern Connecticut State University at a Black History Month event. From his start as a recording artist to his current work building schools for the arts, Archer’s passion and love comes through in every project he starts. He encouraged students to “create the success you desire.” 

Hailing from Windsor, Archer recalled his time as an athlete in the public school system. In his free time, he would create music — a hobby he hoped to pursue as a career. When it came time to attend college, he was given an athletic scholarship that he rejected to focus on music, choosing to stay close to New York City and attending Central Connecticut State University. He remembered people telling him that he had made a mistake. 

“Never stop dreaming,” Archer said. “You never know when that golden opportunity is gonna hit you.” 

Archer’s dreams came true. In 1995 he became a member of the group “Room Service.” They toured as a musical group for years before the music ran dry in 1999. He said, “It was time to dream again.” 

It was then that he had to reconsider his plans. Thinking practically, Archer returned to Connecticut and began working in insurance until he had the opportunity to reconnect with his former producer and was offered a position working for the producer’s record label. 

Archer attributed much of his success to his relationships with others. He encouraged students to approach those who inspire them, start a conversation and lead by offering their skills. “When you create a village of people who hold you accountable and see greatness in you, you can’t fail,” he said. 

After learning the ins and outs of the business, Archer began Eleven28 Entertainment Group, working with numerous celebrities, a career that brought him much esteem. 

Archer’s success took him away from the community he had known for so long into what he called “a neighborhood of picket fences.” Thinking that he had finally proven himself to his white counterparts — working hard to be able to move into a nice house with his family — he continued to experience racism, prejudice and brutality. 

“I’ve been in an elevator with Derek Jeter and 50 Cent,” said Archer, “and folks have still been disrespectful because they’re ‘still Black.’” 

Archer hasn’t lost hope, however. He encouraged the students to find a way to love others “as humans first and foremost” and to support the communities that make their successes possible.  

June ArcherUsing his success and connections, Archer started the "Hot Chocolate Soul” event at The Bushnell in Hartford. The musical showcase offers opportunities for emerging talent to be celebrated — something unavailable to him as a young artist.  

Archer was able to use the proceeds to give back to the community, raising money for AIDS and breast cancer research and treatment. He understood that he “stood on the shoulders of so many people.” Looking for a way to acknowledge those who shaped his life and the lives of others, he began the 100 Men of Color and the 100 Women of Color awards, honoring outstanding individuals in and around Connecticut. 

“When you speak greatness into others,” said Archer, “it helps you to dream again.” Realizing a new dream, he set his sights on starting an art school intent on teaching children skills that can be used in future artistic careers and helping them build connections with those in the industry. 

His newest project has been working on “Stepping into the Shade,” a documentary with Eastern Professors Brian Day and Kirsten Morgan and four students. The “truly American story” details the struggles of migrant and immigrant workers coming to Connecticut to work on the tobacco farms in Hartford, bringing their culture with them. 

Looking at the young students in the room, Archer reflected on all he has done since he was a student. “I don’t want you to ever feel like you don’t belong in every room you step into,” he said. “You’ve put in the work. You’ve shown up. No one can take that away from you.” 

Written by Marcus Grant