24 November 2008

We Are Finally Connecting The Dots

A story that caught my eye the other day was the announcement by a school in New York that it was changing its name to Barack Obama Elementary School. The thing I’ve been preaching about has come to pass – just the presence of that brown skinned face on TV every night as Barack Obama gets closer to being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States has already begun hold the attention of those of us who have traditionally felt that our government has given us the short end of the stick.

New York School Renames Itself For Obama


(CBS/AP) A school on Long Island has been renamed Barack Obama Elementary School in honor of his historic rise to the presidency.

The move at the largely black and Hispanic school in Hempstead is among the first in what will likely be a wave of name changes around the world now that Mr. Obama has been elected president, from schools and streets to parks and mountaintops.

The name Barack Obama Elementary School was the idea of children at the former Ludlum Elementary School, according to officials at Hempstead Union Free School District.

It will give a whole new dynamic to that age old question that strangers like to ask children under ten when they have nothing else to say.

“And where do you go to school, young man?”


It will be the most invigorated answer to that question EVER.

After a few enjoyable moments picturing New York City children shouting the name of their school at the top of their lungs, I had a sobering thought. The schools named after Martin Luther King Jr. house some of the poorest performing student bodies in the country. The streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. seem to draw drug dealers and petty criminals like magnets, and often sport the highest black-on-black crime rate in their local area.

So this name thing could be a good thing, but only if we decide to make it a good thing.

This psychic hunger we have to be wholly recognized by all of society as full participants in all things American, combined with a nationwide hot flash among African Americans over the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, is the most unique moment in the history of black Americans in the country, where inspiration can finally band together with perspiration and preparation to elevate all of us, not just some of us.

If you click on the link to the article, you will see a collaboration between students, teachers, administrators and parents, a rare instance where our entire community collaborates its energies and resources all in the same direction, an exercise in "connecting the dots" that should make those of us dedicated to doing the wrong thing tremble in our shoes. My chest swelled with pride as I read about black children who live in a world of electronic everything WRITING ESSAYS and HAVING DEBATES about a presidential election that has consumed their total interest.

THIS is the real black America, the one I grew up in, the one we all know exists but can never seem to find anymore. THIS is how we have to tackle our problems - intelligently, forcefully, lawfully, and with the highest honor to ourselves and to our history.

So if you've never believed anything in your life, you need to believe that this IS our moment, that this IS our time, in a way that inspires a missionary like zeal in you to connect with as many parts of your community as you can TODAY.

Because I am not interested in seeing crackheads leaning on the "Barack Obama Boulevard" street sign ten years from now.


  1. Great post. I had heard about this school, but I appreciate the call to action that you bring to the news. This is the best way to learn from our past - to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes.

  2. Tragically, there are neighborhoods where the drug dealer with a big gold chain and maybe even a car of his own is the closest thing to a successful person, in a material sense, that kids who live there ever meet.

    I hope Obama's success and efforts to govern will cause those kids to look up and out, beyond street dealers and gangs, to see what learning, working, fitting in and getting along can bring people who look like them. I hope this new president, his wife, family and African Americans on his team will help to validate some of the hopes and dreams of kids in troubled black neighborhoods.

    African Americans breaking barriers and achieving success is hardly new. Jackie Robinson, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Muhammed Ali and many others blazed their own trails. But not everyone has the talent to be a star athlete or entertainer. People who can succeed in law, engineering, education, medicine, business and so on have their trails to blaze, too.

    If Obama's success can help lots of kids from poorer black neighborhoods connect the dots between where they are and where they can get to if they dream and work to make their dream come true, his contribution to those kids and to our country will be up there with those of the most successful presidents we've ever had.

    (Have a fine Thanksgiving.)

  3. This is a wonderful post. I am feeling everything that you say here -which is the simple truth.

  4. Barack should be a role model for all children (I know my kids like him) that anything is attainable.

  5. Awww man the image you left in my head with that last line was powerful.

    I understand and I too am encouraged. But there's a part of me that sees us older folks getting complacent and as a result losing an opportunity to bridge the gap, or at least help in doing so with our kids.

    Personally, I'd like to do more work with our youth, and its something I'm looking into here in the city of Memphis.

  6. Lew Scannon, I agree Obama should be a role model for all kids, as well as being a source of inspiration. I expect that to a much greater degree than we've seen from a president in a long time he will be.

    But I especially think it's important for kids from some of the poorest black neighborhoods, rural areas, too — places where it can be so easy to feel you've got two strikes against you from the start, so what's the use?

  7. it's more than just the one school in hempstead, long island -- it's becoming a measurable trend!


  8. Brown Man, sorry to do this to you, but you've been tagged.


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