Biography of Miles J Dean
Miles J Dean is a visionary who combines an old fashion way of life with modern tools and techniques that empower children and adults to set and achieve personal goals that benefit the individual and the society.
The only son of Miles and Clara Dean (he was a custodian, she an entrepreneur), Miles James grew up in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1968, Miles spent two years attending Howard University, in Washington, DC, with the benefit of a wrestling scholarship. After suffering injuries to both knee ligaments, he left school to take a job working with juvenile and dependent children in a residential group home. As a young mentor to troubled youth, Miles had no idea of the impact he would have on countless numbers of children in the years to follow. When the group homes closed, Miles moved back to NJ and began taking an active stance against crime and harassment always defending the defenseless. His parents, fearing for his safety, suggested that he leave and look for peace within. In 1979 Miles resigned from his job, purchased a motorcycle, and began a three month journey from New Jersey to Alaska. He found his spirit in the open plains of Canada and for the next 5 years engaged in his childhood fantasy of “playing cowboy”.
In 1984, with a new perspective and vision, Miles returned, entered Bloomfield College, and obtain his Bachelors degree in Management. While attending Bloomfield, Miles tried out and was given the lead role in the play, “the Good Doctor”. His casting in two additional plays won him the admiration of a local theatre company and he accepted an invitation to join the cast, with its star Olympia Dukakis, in the play entitled “You can’t take it with you”. Wanting to continue to hone his newly acquired equestrian skills, Miles began to search for riding stables and purchased his first horse.
Miles’ commitment to serve disadvantaged youth redirected his career toward teaching. He began teaching high school in the same school where his father retired and quickly put together its first wrestling program. The program offered students another avenue to enter college. He then, working with Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension program of New Jersey, went on to organize the first African American 4-H horse club in the state.
In 1994 he co-founded and directed the Black Heritage Riders (BHR) organization. In that same year, he wrote and directed the play, “The Black Western Experience.” The play presents a historical representation of African American involvement in the development, expansion, and taming of the "Wild West". Miles’ character portrayal of the legendary cowboy Nat Love can be viewed in the Western section at the Children’s Museum in East Orange, New Jersey.
In 2000, Miles re-structured the BHR and began working on “A Modern African American Pioneer” (AMAAP) journey, an educational odyssey, on horseback, across the United States. Within months he was diagnosed with a brain Tumor. Motivated by his passion to continue to serve youth and humanity he summoned the same spirit and determination that propelled him into one adventure after another, and began to wrestle with his new nemesis.
In September, 2007 he undertook the grueling cross country horseback journey. The Internet commentaries heighten awareness of African American achievements from the early 1500’s through the 1800’s, and promoted cultural enrichment studies in the public education system. During the journey, Miles spoke to thousands of students and faculty members on the benefits of connecting culture to the disciplines of Math, Science, and literature. His journey was followed by millions on www.Blackheritageriders.org
and was completed on April 1, 2008.
The Black Heritage Riders Inc. is now a private foundation with a focus on promoting initiatives that offer opportunities for enrichment in educational curriculums.