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Something to Think About: Celebrating Our Young Folks

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


michael_vaughn2We are entering the time of year where we get a chance to celebrate the academic achievements of our young African-Americans.

One of the events I enjoy going to is the Annual Salute to Black Scholars Dinner sponsored by the Urban League. Not just because my children are a part of this event, but because it will be a chance for me to see 100s of African-American young people who are doing something positive with their lives.

In this environment, it is quite a blessing to have young people who are achieving academic excellence, and who are being recognized for it.

They’ve had to overcome great odds, such as living in poverty, single parent homes, violence in the streets, and educational services that are failing them. And, through it all, they’ve made it to an academic milestone, so now, it is their time for well-deserved recognition.

Not only do I get joy out of seeing these young people celebrated, I also appreciate the colleges, universities, businesses and individuals who’ve sponsored the scholarships for these young people.

I have seen colleges like St. John Fisher, Robert’s Wesleyan, RIT and U of R provide full tuition for students!

This is a massive gift, and it has the potential to not only change the lives of these young people, but for future generations, as well. Based upon the information on the Urban League’s website, over $2.5 million in scholarships will be given out during this dinner, and the donations will come from organizations and individuals who are truly not just paying lip service, but actually stepping up and providing financial resources!

Education is one thing that cannot be removed!

A person can lose a job, they can lose money, they can lose a house. However, once they learn something, it cannot be taken away.

Education is a means to move someone to the next level, by taking them from what may have looked like impossible circumstances, and enabling them to be successful.

I am someone who believes our young people have the capability to excel in whatever they are challenged to do. And this awards ceremony will be one of the ways to motivate students.

Coupled with the sponsors, it will also be quite a blessing that the Democrat and Chronicle will acknowledge all of the black scholars in its newspaper leading up to this dinner. This will be another great way to celebrate these young people.

Many times, the news only highlights African-Americans involved in crimes. And, by digesting a steady diet of these images, I believe it can lead young people to feel hopeless.

However, to open the newspaper, and see pages full of African-American young people, from across Monroe County, being recognized because of hard work and a desire to be more than a statistic, will be refreshing.

God bless William Clark, and his team, for doing this work!

They’ve worked very hard to put this event on, year after year, and it has always been well-done. There will be good food, and celebrating these young people will be well worth the effort.

One other thing I have noticed during these dinners, is that they have tended to have a keynote speaker who was a former black scholar.

And, by doing this, the Urban League has placed an indelible mark in the minds of these young people, letting them know that success is possible.

The hard work they’ve put in during high school will now need to be translated to the college classroom, and beyond.

And when times get hard, they can remember one of their own made it through, and, therefore, they can too!

To all of the 2016 Black Scholars, I salute you, and I am proud of you!

You have succeeded in the first phase of your academic careers, and it is now on to the next level.

You are full of potential, and there is purpose inside you that will help you make an impact on your generation.

Never give up. When times get difficult, just take a pause, keep your eye on the goal, and you will achieve your God-given purpose on earth!

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