I don't know what you're going through life doing if you're not really trying to collect some really great memories." - Channing Tatum
Below is from an email I sent 15 years ago at the beginning of what has evolved into the MIMS Institute Fellows, Inc. Beginning n January 2002, I was able to demonstrate that "Black Lives Matter" by spending time in fellowship with black male freshmen taking English I Honors in Hillsborough County (Tampa, FL) Public Schools. Those named below were in my Circle of Influence when I started sharing "An Optimist's Observation:
Rose Young Gertrude Snyder Klee Williams
Sonia Solomon Rudeen Reid Amanda Page
Betty Page Roy Cushnie George Lew
Dino Rosario Hector Lorenzo Gwen Hayes
Joyce Russell Gracie Thompson Earl Lennard
Doris Reddick Ralph Hughes Ralph Smith
Carl Warren Jason Mims II April V. Mims
Jeanne & Robin Richard Briscoe Clem Miller
Randy James Glenn Brown Lois Kessler
Bill Jones Sandra Murman Gwen Luney
Marilyn Brown Joe Brown Donnie Evans
Elijah Gosier Bill Maxwell Steve Otto
Gilda Stewart Vic Mitchell Richard Neal
BG Baker Rose Ferlita Chris Hart
Herman Moten Kerry Sapp Ms. Darien
Ms. Dorothy Candy Olson David Hurley
After a couple of months of “baking,” an opportunity to serve young men in our community is due to begin tomorrow. I will visit Blake High School and meet a few men who are in a position to help the school district become among the top 1% of school districts in the nation. I have a chance to share an optimist’s observation with them. I am in the process of coordinating similar visits with the principals of all 20 public high schools in our county.
Of the 15,034 freshmen in our schools, 199 or 1.3% are black males taking English I honors this school year. My goal is to meet as many of them as possible by the end of February and thank them for the unique efforts they are making to help the school district achieve its vision. Some of what I wish to tell them appears below.
Before I move to this phase, though, I must acknowledge that my commitment to this effort results from what I have gained from others. The people listed above contributed to what is in “my kitbag.” The bag holds perseverance, hope, compassion, faith, and service to others. My kitbag holds examples of excellence, lifelong learning, and victory in the face of challenge. Imagine some young men beginning to put these ingredients in their kitbags. They may seize more of America's opportunities and help keep America
In His Service,
Some Comments and Observations to Share with Potential Gap Closers (Black Male Freshmen taking English I Honors in 2001-02)
·Thank you for placing yourselves in a position to help close the gap in student achievement between white students and black students.
·Thank you for placing yourselves in a position to help close the gap in SAT Test scores during your junior and senior year. Just continue to take rigorous academic classes and read.
·Find out about the exceptional educational opportunities that lay ahead for you. You do not have to seize these opportunities. Just prepare yourselves to be in a position to say “Yes” or “No” when the top 50 national universities start looking for graduates of the Class of 2005.
·My goal is to talk to all 199 of you over the next two-month period (Jan. and Feb. 2002). You are a member of the 1.3 percent of your 15,034-member class who are black males taking rigorous academic classes.
·You might want to include that fact on your college application to one or more of the top 50 national universities three years from now. Admissions officers at the nation’s best schools will understand what that means.
·They will recognize the truly unique contribution that you can make to their institutions. I suspect they will also have financial aid officers who can arrange for most of your funding to attend these universities.
·I also want you to know that you are the ones who can increase the number of academic scholarship dollars black males earn. This past year, black male graduates in Hillsborough County earned over $700,000 in athletic scholarships, but only $400,000-plus in academic scholarship dollars.
·The bottom line: Think and dream big!
·Nobody in Hillsborough County Schools is in a better position than you to reap the benefits of the centuries of struggle to make exceptional educational opportunities available to our sons and daughters!