Today, was interesting. I got a chance to visit the very last graduation ceremony for Martin Luther King Jr. School in Newark. This is the school that I graduated from 12 years ago, the school that existed for 50 years total. Just gone. It will be replaced by charter schools, and the teachers are either being put in another school or layed off. The students are being shipped to other nearby schools.
I’m not familiar with the charter school process, so forgive my ignorance. I was told the parents would have to cross their fingers, and if they are lucky their child would be selected in a lottery to attend the charter school? This just seems all types of fucked up.
It was a day to celebrate, but it was also a day of sadness. As I walked through the halls to try and remember what it used to be like, I was distracted by the faces of the students and the staff. It was a look of worry. A look of not knowing what was going to happen next. It’s crazy because this is usually the time of year where we were excited the school year was over going into the summer.
Navarrow Wright gave the commencement speech. I think he inspired the kids, and did a great job of showing them how to break through those glass ceilings. He gave me a brief shout out to show the kids I came from the same place and school as them. I believe they will do well. Because MLK had its fair share of annoying teachers, but it was a community of people who really cared as well.
I met old teachers, but there was one woman I came to see who wasn’t there. Her name is Rolanda LeBron. In a short list of people who are responsible for me being where I am today, she’s among the top. If it wasn’t for her teaching me how to use a computer, setup a email, or even letting me stay after school for 3 hours to browse the internet and play games, I wouldn’t be doing anything in tech. I don’t think she even realizes how much that meant to me, hopefully I get a chance to tell her one day.
With people like Rolanda still at MLK I know those kids are destined to defy the odds. Let them close the schools, it won’t stop the community that was built. I was pondering for a while whether or not my story was worth telling. I now know it is. I want young people to realize i’m no different than they are. I had trouble with school, played video games, like girls, listen to hip hop, etc. So if i can do it, you can too.