This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon honoring young black men. Usually, the luncheons are all the same. You arrive, have about a half an hour of hobnobbing with people that you see at all the other luncheons, someone rings a chime, the doors open and you new file into a ballroom and find your seat.
Generally, you sit with people you know, because you have bought the table yourself or been invited by one of your friends who did . You kiss everyone on the cheek all around the table and comment on each others clothing.
Usually, there’s a salad in front of you already waiting, and sometimes the dessert, too. The table is usually too crowded, and you sit around and wonder quietly which napkin is yours and hope you choose the right fork.
Finally, some with courage will be the first one to dig in. They grab a napkin and everyone follows suit.
Fortunately for me, I had my big one with me, and she informed us that the right way to go was to wait for the oldest person at the table to start. We chuckled and waited to see if the young ladies and men at our table could figure out which one of us was the oldest.
Just like always, we played around with our salads a little bit and made small talk with the people at the table that we knew until someone got up and introduced the person that was going to do the invocation. A pastor stood up to bless the food which we had already started eating.
As usual, the expected rubber chicken or maybe not so rubber chicken lunch was served. Someone stopped the kids from eating their dessert first, and half of us at the table said we wouldn’t touch the dessert that we would later devour anyway.
And then the program started. As usual, I turned my chair just a little to got a better glance at what was going to happen.
The music started. It was so fresh and so clean. And that’s when this luncheon turned different for me.
I was attending because I’m a member of the organization that put on this particular event. It’s a scholarship fundraiser. I was not on the committee, and I can’t say that I did anything other than write a check. I am new to the city and did not know how or where to step in.
I do not have a son. We did not do this event as a fundraiser back in San Antonio.
Before the event, I can’t say that I felt any particular attachment, other than I knew that since I was unable to participate in the planning,I felt an obligation to attend.
The boys that marched in to the music were high school aged seniors. They wore tuxedo pants with white shirts and bow ties and they carried canes that reminded me of Kappa canes, except they were green and white. They were, as the music suggested, “So fresh and so clean”.
They they were from high schools all over the city, and they marched in with their heads held high. None of them slouched.
None of them acted silly.
Imagine my surprise when I felt myself swelling with pride. These young men were The Achievers. They had worked hard together for over six months, attended workshops and sold ads and tables. They were at the top of their class and most admired in their communities and among their peers. They all had different interests, but they were all college-bound, and today, their hard work over the past few months and indeed the past few years would be rewarded. Each one received a scholarship. They stood up together and took a vow to continue to be the best that they could for no other reason than JUST BECAUSE and maybe to make their parents proud. Too many times, we only recognize the negative in our young people. I listened to their stories and was glad to be in the room, and felt privileged to be part of their village.


Anonymous said…
It's always refreshing to see young black men achieving. I've been to a few events like this one, and whether they are from a disadvantaged area working themselves up or from a solid base and are doing well because it's what is expected of them, they ALL come through the process as better men, improved human beings.

I'm hoping in the "era of Obama" that our young men can pull up thier jeans, help others, love learning, and grow to into the being the kings they can be. Brothers are back in rotation (top golfer in the world, top race car driver in the world, leader of free world, top lawyer in the US, leader of the GOP, most understandable astrophysist in the world, and the list goes on) and I'm looking forward to us delivering more and more.
Juan G said…
Sounds like an empowering event even for those who have already travelled that road.
That sounded like a really wonderful moment. When we give young people the tools to succeed and get out of their way, they do some amazing things... Some excel even when we don't.

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