First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020).  Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution.  More about Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  List and general description of entries to date.  Annual assessment whether Revolution plausible.

Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  Profile of characters.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office in Washington, DC.  Conversation for this series starts Entry #219.

Jordan:  “So you want to know the 3rd person on the list of role models for the black community?”

092615_2031_Characters11.pngMatt:  “Do I know the person?”

Jordan:  “Probably not.  But the person has an impressive set of accomplishments.”

Matt:  “Well, how’d you find out about him…or her?”

Jordan:  “Obituary in the NY Times.”

Matt:  “I must admit, the obits in The Times make for fascinating reading.  Remarkable people, and many you’ve never heard of before.  OK, tell me more.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Like Rock Man, the guy’s family is from the south and poor.  Also, like Rock Man he gets into college and graduates.  In fact, all nine children in the family graduate from college.”

Matt:  “Impressive.  About what year did he graduate?”

Jordan:  “Entered college in the early 1950’s, probably 1952.  Graduates in about 1956 from South Carolina State, which is a historically black college.”

Matt:  “Then what?”

yale_bulldogs2Jordan:  “Next gets a divinity degree from Harvard, then off to Columbia for masters in I think psychology.  The icing on the cake is a PhD from Yale.”

Matt:  “Oh, is that all?  I mean, whadda say other than, wow?  Did he go into politics after that?”

Jordan:  “Got very involved in the Civil Rights Movement working with church-affiliated organizations in New York City.  He was also appointed president of Benedict College, which is a Baptist college.  After Benedict he worked for the Ford Foundation until appointed president of Tuskegee University in 1980 or 1981.”

tuskegee-logoMatt:  “Tuskegee has come a long way in the last few decades.  The school really transformed itself to a credible research university.”

Jordan:  “The 3rd role model, Dr. Benjamin Payton, initiated most of those changes.  He was president for about 30 years.  Think he retired in 2010.”  (Link to Dr. Payton’s obituary, 16-10-23-223-obit-dr-benjamin-payton)

Matt:  “Dr. Payton is clearly a great role model for the black community.  But all three people could role models for everyone.”

Jordan:  “I agree and that’s one of the reasons they are on the list.”

Matt:  “The selections are great…but one thing that I’ve got to ask about.  The storyline for all three seems to be a college education.  You and I both know that not everyone is cut out for college.”

determinationJordan:  “I agree that education is a common component.  I think the overriding, and more important component, is determination.  Each one was determined not to let the system or stereotypes get in the way.  Rock Man agreed to become Mr. Mom so his wife could become a corporate executive.  Would you do that?  Lonnie Johnson was an engineer at NASA, a bit unusual itself, and then became an entrepreneur – first inventing the super squirt gun, then working on an advanced battery.  Dr. Payton gets as many degrees as you and I combined and then turned a frankly so-so historically black college into a credible research university.  Each one of these people broke the mold.” 

Matt:  “Each one belongs on the list.  One more question about the list.  And you probably don’t want to hear the question.  Why exclude ignoreathletes as role models?”

Jordan:  “First, sports for the black community are ok if…and this is the big if that seems to get overlooked in the conversation…”

Matt:  “…let me guess the ‘if.’  Sports are OK if the athlete also gets an education, right?”

Jordan:  “Spot on.  To be OK, the athlete’s degree can’t be in some half-baked major where no real jobs exist.”

NFLMatt:  “Your OK if the athlete has a degree in a credible subject.”

Jordan:  “And then the athlete uses the degree after the NFL or NBA career…and ideally during their career.”

Matt:  “These days most athletes don’t work in the off-season…at least not at regular jobs”

Jordan:  “I know.  Think about this.  What if athletes used their education in the off season to say, tutor kids?  Tutoring kids not just in schools considered disadvantaged but all schools.”

Matt:  “You mean like helping kids with reading, algebra, maybe even physics?  What a pleasant change that would be.”

nba-logoJordan:  “Imagine an NBA star coaching kids in English class and encouraging them to spend time studying rather than shooting hoops.”

Matt:  “Interesting idea.”

Jordan:  “And here’s my guess.   Having a black NBA star spending just a few days tutoring kids in higher-achieving schools would do wonders to help begin to change the image of the black community among many whites.”

Matt:  “If I heard you right, the NBA star should spend most of the time in 122813_2140_15Education4.jpgdisadvantaged schools but some time in other schools, right?”

Jordan:  “Simple idea, huh?”

Matt:  “Very simple…and could be very effective.  Now, we need to end this conversation.  I need to get to start writing articles for Greenie about how the riots in Charlotte…and elsewhere…contributed to the Revenge Revolution.  I also think that even more important is having some articles that present practical ideas on how groups and communities can move ahead.”

Jordan:  “Matt, these should be great stories for Charlotte…and a lot of communities.  In the articles, please remind readers that progress can be made 2014-chevrolet-volt-5much faster by driving looking through the windshield and not trying to drive looking through the rearview mirror.”

Matt:  “Jordan, as always, time together has been a pleasure.  OK if I call back with questions?”

Jordan:  “Of course.  Matt, enjoyed it.  Take care.”   (End of this series)