Posts Tagged ‘martin luther king’

by Carey Casey

“We don’t take black money.”

Those were the cruel words my father-in-law, Dr. Little, heard when he was a young man at a public golf course in 1959.

“Good,” he responded.  “Because money is green.”

He left his cash on the counter, turned around, and walked out the door to go play a round of golf.

Later, he and his friends were escorted away by police for playing on a “whites only” course. Rather than exploding into a violent rage, as many others would have done, Dr. Little stayed calm and held his head high during his arrest.

That highly publicized event and his example of a dignified man were instrumental in the future of the golf course, which would be integrated a few years later.

On MLK Day, I find myself reflecting on my father-in-law’s story.  I am also reminded that Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech was about being a father.  It was about envisioning the future he wanted for his children, and then working to make that dream a reality.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he said.

We can all learn something from Dr. King, Dr. Little, and Championship Fathers across the globe …

More important than a man’s circumstances—his race, his socioeconomic status, his custodial or marital situation—is the way in which he handles his circumstances and envisions the future.

Do you model self-control?  Do you remain calm and rational, even when others are becoming bitter … perhaps even violent?  Can you hold your head high because you know you are acting like the dignified man you want your children to see?  Do you communicate to your children that the world is a good place and that the future is bright and colorful?

Or do you act as though the world is a bleak place to live?

When I think about what other fathers—black, white, Asian, Latino, poor, rich, married, divorced—have been through, I am motivated to hold the mantle just as high and to walk with dignity.

I am reminded to be mindful about what my children see through my eyes and how they envision the future.

What are your deepest longings for the world in which your children grow up?  How do you want them to see you?  The future?

Let this holiday be not just about civil rights, but also about Championship Fathering.  Tell your children what you dream for them.

My dad was there for Dr. King’s speech in Washington, D.C., August 1963.  Years later, I said to my dad, “I wish I could have been a grown-up back in 1963, when all that was happening with civil rights.”

My dad said, “No, Son, you’re going to be part of something even greater.”

Today, I’m convinced he was right.

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need.


HEROES or ZEROS – Who Are Teenagers Following Today?

One week during a Bible study, we looked at a powerful lesson from Matthew 8:28-34.  This is the story where Jesus cast some demons out of two violent young men.  After the demons were cast out of these two, the demons begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs who then led them to leap off a cliff and drown to death in the lake below.

As we discussed the story, some shared that it symbolized to them that if you are a pig or behave in a pig-like (foul) manner, you will attract demons.  The question then came up as to why so many of our young people are attracted to negative or demonic-like people?  Tupac Shakur’s name was tossed in with a long list of this generation’s popular heroes who have gained little attention or understanding from the adult generation.

Folks couldn’t quite understand why there was so much passion for a guy who ran around with the words ‘Thug Life’ tattooed across his stomach.  Tupac was known for his violent behavior and his constant association with some sort of trouble.  He was accused of causing a disturbance in Marin City that resulted in a six-year-old kid getting shot to death.  He went to jail for sexual assault.  He carried guns and was not afraid to use them, and once even shot two off duty cops.

For the most part he lived and died violently, so why the attraction?  Why were kids crying hysterically when he died?  Why do his posters still hang on the walls of so many teenagers’ rooms?  Why are there now classes on college campuses that study his music, poetry and life?  Could Tupac and his fellow ‘gangsta rappers’ who constantly glamorize street life be functioning in the role of ‘demons’ and be leading our kids to lives of emptiness and death?  Post-mortem, Tupac has taken on a legendary status.  You can often hear people refer to him as a leader who sacrificed and died for his people.  How did he reach such heights from his death in 1996 to now in 2011 with kids who are currently in middle school?

Being involved with youth on a regular basis, one of the constant things I hear being said when I ask about Tupac from our young people is: “He was real, and he was fearless.  He was real – while so many other people are fake… You knew about his trials and tribulations… You knew his momma was a crack addict who had several kids with different daddies… You knew he hated his father… You knew he was hurting, and you knew he was angry.”  Tupac pulled no punches and he radiated a passion that touched a lot of people.  Young people everywhere appreciated his honesty and “realness”.

Could it be whether for better or for worse, that Tupac became a hero because so many of us adults have stopped doing the job and let the Tupacs of the world take our place as the more consistent role model?  I remember as a kid hearing the familiar question asked of parents: “It’s 10 o’clock… Do you know where your children are?”  I would now say to parents:  It’s the 21st century; do you know who’s talking to your kids?  Is it someone you trust?  Is it Tupac or Snoop Dog in videos or through YouTube?  Is it the guy making fast money down the street?

The fact that Tupac is considered such a hero today represents even a bigger picture for us.  For many of today’s young people, he’s more known and admired than Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Booker T. Washington, and Barak Obama.  `Facts like this make it obvious that as adults with influence we have all got to step up our game to reach our young people.  Who is winning the hearts, souls and minds of our kids in America and why?

An exercise I like to do when I speak to young people is to ask them who their top 5 heroes are.  What I found is that most never mention a teacher, pastor, youth leader, parent or some other family member.  I often hear names like Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, Pink, Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, etc.  And what is even more disturbing is that a lot of kids say they don’t have any heroes!

Another thing that has become obvious is the fact that many adults never even bother to have heartfelt exchanges with young people to even see what sort of messages they are picking up from their heroes.  Do they want to get tattoos like Tupac and 50 Cent mimicking their videos with bikini clad women flattering them?  Do they admire their violent ways and figure that’s the way to handle problems?  Did they pick up on the intelligence and brilliance of Tupac as a writer?  Or was he just a good-looking guy who made great music?  A lot of kids pick up Tupac’s good side, but a larger number admire and strive to emulate his fearless-take-no-prisoners persona.  They see Tupac as the ultimate street soldier.

Who are your kid’s heroes?  Is it Tupac, 50 Cent, Lil Kim, or Lady Ga Ga?  Do they want to dress provocatively with their breast hanging out and get their tongues pierced like Pink?  Today’s pop and hip-hop icons aren’t so innocent.  We have little kids who are 5 years old who know how to grind when they dance, and little boys who want to walk around with their pants like Ludacris and T.I.

I was recently viewing a Kanye West concert on YouTube that was packed with young people who have made him and his crews their idols and heroes.  After listening to Kanye encourage the mostly teenage audience to ‘Yell f– you bitch’ and ‘f– you nigga’, I had to wonder how many of our young people are influenced by attitudes and messages such as that and want to be like Kanye?

All of us have a responsibility to protect the youth in our communities from harmful influences.  Even if you don’t have kids of your own, we can still strive to create better standards and conditions so that drug dealers, entertainers, and rap stars aren’t more of an influence than the parents, teachers and preachers in our children’s lives.

If you know a child or a teenager, why aren’t you or some other family member one of their heroes?  I don’t ask this question to point fingers, but our young people are in trouble.  All sorts of demons are fighting to possess their hearts, minds, and souls.  Ask them who their heroes are… and if they’re the wrong type of heroes. Let’s be sure to step up and counter that.

We must give the proper attention and understanding to the hip-hop culture so that we as adults might earn the right to be heroes and role models for this generation.  Our true heroes will stay so by staying conscious of the power and influence they have on the lives of our young people.

Originally published in 1999 by Jim Shearer in What’s the Word Magazine.  Ideaz Media Corp™ Revised 2011. All Rights Reserved.