Last weekend, my daughter (and sometime editor) and I headed north to visit my son at camp. The trip is quite long and I hate driving. It's probably a function of age; in my youth, I used to traverse the country, often by myself. I probably enjoyed it. One family legend tells of the summer I worked in Yellowstone National Park, where I picked garbage from the back of a truck. Strangely enough, a college friend and I needed help from our local congressmen to get this prestigious (but hardly glamorous) job. While on the back of that truck, I was struck by lightning in a freak summer storm. Many of the weird things that have happened subsequently have been blamed on that event. Although I haven't completely persuaded my family, I am personally convinced that surviving that experience has shaped my life in strange and unpredictable ways.
Now, three children and many moons later, long distance travel is something out of the distant past. When annual car trips materialize, it's my husband who serves as chauffeur. He likes it; driving also gives him rights to play with the radio and the air (sort of the equivalent of the remote control at home). He wasn't available for this trip so the driving fell to me by default. The good news is that I had a wonderful traveling companion. We went to the library and got a number of books on tape. And what we first "read" was what I wanted to tell you about. I'm not wild about 'book reports' (writing or reading them) but I love to read and share what I've loved. So, if you're not a reader or can't be bothered with real live modern day heroes, don't read any further.
"The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise and Fulfill A Dream" by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Lisa Frazier Page is the story of three poor Black boys from Newark whose lives were changed when they got a chance to go to University High (a magnet high school). While there, they were recruited by Seton Hall's Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Plus Program which targets minorities. This rekindled George's childhood ambition to be a dentist and the three made a pact to work together to get into and through college and medical school.
The book is read (and written) in alternate chapters by the three and traces their lives in their neighborhood, their friends, their families, and the challenges they faced in reaching their goal.
Their tale is riveting. The marvelous fact is that this is a success story of epic proportions. They were able to avoid the fate of many of their friends and neighbors. They overcame tremendous odds to become internist (Rameck), ER doctor (Sam) and dentist (George). They credit their success to the fact that they were a unit, always encouraging and supporting one another. They also had strong family support and key mentors to encourage them along the way.
"Our vision is to serve as a positive model for inner city youth and families across the nation. We utilize our experience, status and programs as platforms to encourage community development, volunteerism and leadership.
We travel around the country speaking to children and adults about our success story encouraging education and health care awareness.
In addition, we host events in conjunction with our non-profit organization, The Three Doctors Foundation, in support of our mission focusing on health awareness, leadership, education and positive youth networks."
I bet you're wondering how what they did and do ties in with OpEdNews and my work as Voting Integrity Editor. Strictly speaking, not much. But, I have always seen my 'job' as more than simply cutting and pasting pertinent articles for our readers. My "Invisible Ballots" DVD lending library project and my editorials all stress how each of us needs to jump in and get involved in order to make a difference in our communities. In whatever capacity. These men did just that. Because of their circumstances, the road was a lot longer and bumpier than for most of us, but they did prevail. Now, they are talking up their story and giving scholarships and moral support to poor Black kids.
This book would be of special interest to minority kids as well as a more general audience. I was thinking that my own 16-year old would really get a lot out of it. Hearing the voices of the authors added an element of authenticity that a more seasoned, professional reader would have lacked. It was a good choice.
I salute their achievement and their passion. They have inspired a generation of inner city youths to look beyond their immediate circumstances. They are terrific role models. I challenge anyone to come away, unmoved, from reading this book. I nominate them for our "Local Hero" corner. They join an eclectic but outstanding group. Let's review the list so far:
Lt. Col. (retired) Bill Burkett, Texas National Guard, who broke the story about officials 'losing' the documents from George W. Bush's Vietnam era service record
Stephen Heller, whistleblower, who faces three felony counts for leaking information that Diebold was willfully defrauding the California voters