HomeOpinionCommentaryKeeping your Eyes on the Prize

Keeping your Eyes on the Prize

I heAfrican American news from Pasadena - Editorial - eyes on the prizeard a blues song recently and the words asked, "Where did you learn to shake it like that? Your daddy was a preacher, so where did you learn to shake it like that?" She answers, "My daddy was a preacher, but my mama was an alley cat." The song goes on and asks, "Why do you treat me like that? Your daddy was a preacher," and again she answers, "My daddy was a preacher, but my mama was an alley cat!" There is a message in that song that goes way beyond being a blues song. It tells you to watch the whole picture, not just what you see.

I have been a lawyer for over thirty years and I know our training in analyzing circumstances and situations is invaluable. I am always amazed when someone comes

to me and they have analyzed their case, as far as they can, based on their emotion and limited reading of the facts. One good example is the case where a woman's lawyer got her millions when she spilled hot McDonald's coffee on herself. No one talks about the reconstructive surgery she had to have done as a result of the spillage. People wonder how results happen. I say look for the alley cat behind the preacher. In my career, I have gotten unbelievable results from cases because I have looked behind the obvious case for the alley cat. She's always there. I once had a case where the police claimed that they beat my client because when they handcuffed him he grabbed the officer's balls.

I recently filed a case, and ended up settling it where a police officer said my client, "Bitched up on him." I have filed many discrimination cases. In one case the client was diagnosed with a developmental disability after working years for the school district. She went from being physically capable of doing her job as an educator to having to use a wheel chair. When she asked the school district to provide an automatic door opener because she had to sit out in the rain and wait on someone to come along and open the door, they refused. We filed a lawsuit and the district paid a big settlement and still had to automate the doors.

In another case, a local, professional ball player had sex with a girl who claimed she was drugged. He provided an audience around his bed for the event. We sued and they settled and paid her. As an affirmative action and equal employment officer at Hughes Aircraft, before becoming a lawyer, I learned what makes a good case and I have brought those skills with me to my thirty year law practice.

What I love about practicing law is that you earn a good living while helping others. I try to invest those earnings back into my community through the Journal and events like the Women of Achievement Breakfasts and various marketplaces, The Black Expo, and the African Marketplace and Youth Marketplace over the years.

When I worked at Hughes, a supervisor told me that when you get a person's card, the shorter the title the more successful or independent he/she is. So when my card said Joe Hopkins, barber, I was proud of that. My mother, who was an entrepreneur, made that possible. She knew I needed to be something and she paid to send me to barber school. I passed on the lesson, and all three of my son's became entrepreneurs. One son became a barber. He's now a Ph.D, professor, and minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now I am a lawyer. My wife made that possible. Together, we are publishers and rental property owners, and I am proud of that. Please note, schooling and family members helped make my accomplishments possible. It was then up to me to pass it on to the next generation.

Hopefully, you are passing good lessons on to your children, for them to get their eyes on the prize. Choice is not a part of this plan. My son, the ex-barber, can testify that. You either send your child to school or be prepared for whatever, even jail. I talked to a parent once who told me that a father took his son on a tour of schools and helped him to decide what he wanted to be. Today he is an engineer.

Now alley cat, what is your plan for your child?




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