A few weeks ago we got an early morning call from Atlanta, Georgia from our daughter in-law. She was calling to tell us that our grandson, Joshua, was on the front page of the Atlanta Daily Constitutional Metro page. Joshua is nine years old and part of a Chess day camp, teaching young people how to play chess. The excitement about the picture was increased because Joshua was in the picture with former mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young. Young was signing the camp's chess board with the inscription that said "Keep thinking through your next move."
The camp was part of a program started by former Georgia state trooper, Orrin Hudson. The program was designed to teach young people life lessons through chess. The camp is being held at the "BE SOMEONE TRAINING CENTER in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The kids wear T-shirts that say, "BE SOMEONE". The overall slogan for the organization is, "PUSH PAWNS, NOT DRUGS - HEADS UP, PANTS UP, GRADES UP!"
I watched the movie about Cathy Hughes' former husband who was founder of the Radio One and TV One empire. It relates to a charismatic guy called Petey Green. In the movie Hughes talks about how he developed a life's goal by watching "The Johnny Carson Show". He says he learned to speak and dress professionally like Johnny Carson. It worked.
Whenever I get an opportunity to tell my story, I tell about my mother being in business and how that inspired me to go into business. I went to Barber School after watching the Barber next to my mother's store. I went to Law School after meeting my hometown's only Black Lawyer, Gabriel (Gabe) Solomon, who incidentally went to Law School with former speaker and San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown. I know other Lawyers who became Lawyers because they were fed the images of Claire Huxtable on the "The Cosby Show." I'm sure there are Black Doctors out there because they also watched "The Cosby Show."
With this in mind, I developed my Professional Careers Institute from the idea that exposure to professionals will provide the inspiration to become a professional. On the other hand if you watch and listen to negative models on a regular basis you will develop a negative life's goal. It is just that simple.
Today we have a generation of young men who have developed their attitude from watching gangster rappers. But thank God we still have organizations like Georgia's, BE SOMEONE program.
Who is your kid watching? If he or she doesn't have a positive hero get him/ her one. There are doctors and lawyer shows on the air. Many of these shows have Black heroes in them. You can also go out and buy videos of all "The Cosby Show's" and watch them as a family like so many of us did in the seventies.
In addition to television and movies, read books to and with your children like Vivian Stringer's story in her book called, Standing Tall. There is another book and movie about three African American brothers who made a pact to become Doctors. I think it is called PACT. If it's music your kid likes, give them piano lessons. Maybe they can teach music, if they don't make it as a performer.
Read with them about the great Black performers like Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway or others from the Harlem Renaissance Period with playful and/or positive messages.
In this, the Barack Obama era, let's seize the moment and build on the momentum of a new renaissance, and teach our kids to "BE SOMEONE."