November 21, 2000
Ladies and gentlemen,
I come before you with meekness and appreciation for the
confidence you have vested in me, and with reverence in
all that we've accomplished together.
Today, I will speak only briefly to thank the people
who made this moment possible. First, to my wife, Delores,
thank you for being the wind beneath my wings. To our
two children, Tirzah and Tamara, graduates of Miami Carol
City - I am proud of you both. To the members of my church,
to my many friends, to our extended family, and to all
who have added brightness to our lives, I thank you.
Congratulations to those elected to serve with me and
to my colleagues who did not have to face re-election
this term. To all of our school administrators, teachers,
staff members; to the parents, notably parents like Mrs.
Dahlia Excell and to our students, especially students
with the courage of Diamond Excell and her sister Daysha.
You see, students like Diamond make serving on this School
board truly worthwhile. Diamond was brought to my attention
by Dr. Ben Cowins of Norland Senior High school and I
asked the Superintendent Roger Cuevas to get involved
and he called into service of Ron Felton. Ultimately Mr.
Ivan Yeager, a prosthesis inventor was recruited to create
the needed prosthesis for Diamond at a cost of $60,000.
Well I am pleased to say that between the Opa-locka Rotary
and the Rotary International Foundation we were able to
raise $60,000 plus and we pray that Diamond's prosthesis
is only a short time away. The first thing Diamond said
she wanted to do with her new arms was to give her mother
a big hug.
I thank my constituents for the privilege of serving
as school board member which is a position that offers
a Benevolent Pulpit to champion causes like that of Diamond
To my supporters, by your allowing me to serve as your
school board representative you have made many statements,
among them are these:
I am well aware that no one person can resolve every
problem they might encounter during their service. But
I can continue to build on the foundation laid by the
Honorable William Turner, The Honorable Joyce Knox, the
Honorable Dr. Frederica Wilson, and the Honorable Dr.
Solomon Stinson. My work is being added on to theirs.
So I come at this time in history celebrating those that
paved the way, those who have given of themselves their
time their talent and their treasures, to prepare the
path. I pray that together with my present colleagues
who also have made the school system a safer and therefore
better place to study and learn continue to move our school
This we must do in spite of every instinct to look out
for "Numero Uno" an idea that started with the
proposition that "Self preservation is the first;
law of nature," a course of action calling for man
to serve only himself. But the real truth, I've learned,
is that if a person is to serve himself best, he must
serve others well. This is not a new idea, it is a basic
idea that predates all great religions and is repeated
in each of them.
My goal is service. As the great educator Dr. Mary McCloud
Bethune would offer "Service is the price I must
pay for the space I occupy."
Not only that, I have been told:
If you want one year of prosperity grow grain;
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees;
If you want hundreds of years of prosperity, grow children.
So, I would like to put forth three facets that form
the essence of my service to grow children as a School
Board Member: (1) My attitude towards God, (2) My attitude
towards myself, and (3) My attitude towards others. You
see I am convinced that it is your attitude, and not your
aptitude that will determine your altitude.
As a point of departure let me speak to my attitude towards
GOD. You see I have a growing faith and a belief in God
and I am dependent on HIM to give me the spiritual and
moral strength that I need to make the right decisions.
GOD gives me the ingredients for my daily bread, but HE
expects me to do the baking.
Therefore I have supported this administration in moving
our schools forward into the new millennium. As a result
during our last school year, creative minds dreamed the
impossible, and astoundingly, the impossible happened
- our students' improvement on the crucial FCAT test,
the basis of the state's A-Plus Plan for Education improved
significantly, with second-graders boosting their reading
scores by 13 points, and fifth-graders raising their math
scores by 19 points. Congratulations are in order all
of the members of our school system who rose to the rigorous
Secondly, My attitude towards myself. I believe that
God did not bring me this far to leave me. He has endowed
me with certain talents that I must continuously develop
not for myself alone but to serve others better.
One of my goals then is to see that our children, particularly
our children who are considered the least and the lost
- they must understand that they are not just going to
school but they are actually paying a debt as thanks to
those who have put their lives on the line to challenge
an unjust system and who made it possible for them to
go to school. Additionally, it is my belief that one of
the predominate goals of our school system must be to
create graduates who are capable of doing things, not
simply repeating what other generations have done - but
graduates who are innovative, inventive, insightful and
industrious. And this will occur with GOD being my guide.
Thirdly my attitude towards others is to overcome the
conflicts we have in society today, the problems of law
and order the hostility among races. The greatest and
noblest pleasure we can have in this school system is
to discover new truths about people different from ourselves
and the next is to shake off old prejudices. We must end
the defense of prejudice and begin the crusade for principles.
Principle is not the absence of prejudice - it is mastery
over our prejudice. The ultimate accomplishment of our
school system stands within our own grasp if we keep learning,
moving, growing, working and serving. True it will not
be easy to accomplish these goals, however, the facts
say that these goals can be a real possibility with God,
determination, motivation, service and cooperation.
I offer my support to any and all who want to join in
working toward this end.
Finally, I pledged all my energy toward increasing my
ability, stability, responsibility and accountability
to student safety and student educational excellence,
together we must be our children caretakers or for sure
we will visit our children's undertakers.
So when I feel discouraged I will remember the stonecutter
who after striking a blow with his hammer saw the rock
split. He knew that it was not his blow alone that split
the rock but all the blows that had been struck before.
I know that I have not struck all 101 blows to achieve
the high honor of being one of our children's caretakers.
I started where other Board Members left off. I am grateful
for the Honorable William Turner, Joyce Knox, Dr. Frederica
Wilson, Dr. Solomon Stinson and a host of others who put
into action this great educational foundation on which
the rest of us can build.
Again, for me personally and for my family, thank you
for treasure of your support.
I appeal to my colleagues for us to work together in
"Giving our students the world."
Let us proclaim it from the dais.
Let us shout it from the housetops.
Let us sing it on the street comers.
Let us declare it from every room and classroom.
And by all means,
Let us believe it in our hearts.
There is JOY in giving our children the world,
In spite of the adversities we may experience in our
service - there is JOY. In spite of the burdens we may
have to bear - there is JOY.
In spite of the discouragement's that come from time to
time - there is JOY.
Let us make this a positive school year. Our community
deserves no less. Thank you.