By BONNIE L. HAZEN
No matter what your race, sex, creed or color, you can still be successful in life. That was the overall theme Wednesday at Lincoln K-8 School in Warren, where students were treated to visits from some of Warren's most acclaimed community leaders in celebration of Black History Month.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Bonnie L. Hazen
Anthony Davis speaks to students Wednesday at Lincoln K-8 School in Warren.
In a different twist, students learned not only about the past, but also about the present.
"There is always going to be someone or something that tells you that you can't do what you want to do. You just be the person you are. Be the real you, and you will go far," district family engagement coordinator Anthony Davis said to students gathered in the school's cafetorium.
Davis was joined by the city's first African-American mayor, Doug Franklin; Inspiring Minds Executive Director Deryck Toles; Warren Board of Education President Andre Coleman; Warren probation officer Vincent Baugh; and 7th Ward Councilman Eddie Colbert, to name a few.
Superintendent Michael Notar, who presented the speakers, said the event helped to show students that there are people making a difference right here in Warren.
"Not only some of the past people, but what we have locally, to highlight some of the people in our current community, our current school district. It's educating our kids that we have some phenomenal people that are very successful. It kind of gives them a sense of direction that they can be successful, they can go somewhere," he said.
"In black history, you learn about African American history, so we're learning about African-Americans in our time, in our community," said eighth-grade student Jillian DiCesare, 13.
The students took notes as speakers visited classrooms to give them an overview on their history, achievements, struggles and triumphs. They will use their notes to write informative essays on the lives of the speakers as part of Common Core standards.
"These are people that play roles in our lives. I'm very excited to have (Warren board of education member) Regina Patterson. She is a very warm woman. She's very hard-working and I look up to her as an adult," said eighth-grade student Sharese Tucker, 14.
Other speakers included area pastors, police officers, scholars and officials.
Baugh told students his job is not to lock them up.
"My job is to do whatever I have to do to make sure you don't get in trouble again. We're not bad; we're here to help," he said.
Coleman read students a poem called "The Creation" by early civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson, after which he told them, "Dare to be great. We all have a purpose."
Davis said there are three things that everyone needs to be successful: a good character, determination and respect.
"(You have to say) I'm not going to quit, I'm not going to give up and I'm going to be respectful," he said.
Franklin told students there is greatness in all of them, and told them the day he took office as the first African American mayor of the city of Warren was one of the greatest days of his life - but with that title comes great responsibility.
Colbert said, "There's days when you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then we come here, we see you. We see the future."