I begin with the idea and the ideal to REMEMBER because
to me, one of the best testimonies to your learning is
that you REMEMBER those on whose shoulders you are standing.
The richness of your existence lies in the memories that
those significant others in your life gave up much so
that you can be where you are today.
When you REMEMBER the value of your parent's or guardian's
gifts to you,
When you REMEMBER the kindness that your teachers rendered
When you REMEMBER the examples that they have provided
you make the most of your life before the most of your
life is gone.
Secondly I invite you to RESPECT yourself and to RESPECT
RESPECT simply means that you will overlook the faults
of others but LOOK OVER your own faults carefully.
The Staple Singers reminds us that "if you disrespect
anybody that you run into/how in the world do you think
anybody is supposed to respect you."
Remember it is not the ship in the water but the water
in the ship that sinks it. So it is not the system that
you are in but the system in you that constitutes the
danger. You will never be sorry for RESPECTING yourself
and RESPECTING others.
My final point for your consideration is REPAYMENT.
I have been around long enough to testify that it did
not matter later in life who my friends were in school,
or what clubs I did or did not belong to. It did not matter
what kind of clothes I wore. It did not matter what kind
of car I drove or if I had a car at all. What mattered
was what I did - what I did for my family WHO sacrificed
that I may have. Did I REPAY them with LOVE?
To my teachers and administrators who helped me along
the way - did I REPAY them with at least a THANK YOU?
And to all others who supported me in some way - did
I REPAY them with KINDNESS?
I can answer those questions in the affirmative because
I am one who appreciated those who helped me get over.
I may not be where I want to be, I may not be where I
pray to be - But by the grace of GOD - I'm not where I
use to be.
You see I am the least likely individual to be standing
before you at this hour.
I am from a hard time era. I use to hang out on street
corners running from the police, and because I had to
drop out of high school and had a limited educational
background I was confined to working on the back of a
municipal garbage truck. I was born in Overtown, but grew
up in area in Liberty City now called "Pork and Bean"
project, living in misery.
Today, I humourously call those times my "PO"
times. We were so "PO" that we could not afford
all four letters, we could only afford two "P. O.
I am one of eleven children and we were so "PO"
that one Christmas my father climbed on the roof of our
house blew up a brown paper bag and burst it so that it
sounded like a shotgun and came back and told the children
Santa Claus had committed suicide.
Seriously, I make light of those times now but I will
always be indebted to my parents who gave me all that
I recall my dad putting cardboard in his shoes so that
when I was able to go to school I had a new pair of shoes
to wear. I will always be indebted to administrators and
teachers who guided my studies toward books where I could
read and gain insights like the one I learned from reading
what Anne Frank confided in her diary.
Anne Frank noted that, "Parents can only give their
child or children good advice or put them on the right
paths, but the final forming of a persons character lies
in their own hands."
I had parents who gave me good advise and headed me on
the right road and teachers who made certain that not
only was I on the right road but that I was headed in
the right direction.
And because of their advise and support I went from a
high school drop-out to a GED and from a GED to a Ph.D.
From running from the police on the force to running
the Police Force, in other words from a chump to a chief
From the back of a municipal garbage truck as a maverick
to the front of a municipal government as its Mayor.
From a room in Miami Dade's Public Housing to the Boardroom
in Dade County Public Schools.
From Misery to the Ministry!!
And every day in every I work to REMEMBER, RESPECT AND
REPAY the goodness was given me.
So Class of 2000, many of you have learned how to make
a living, now you must learn how to make a life.
I've stopped by too remind you that you now stand at
the end of one path in your high school lives, and stare
out at the field of possibilities before you. You are
faced with awesome decisions.
So here's the challenge: You have a wealth of knowledge
behind you -- your parents and your families beside you.
Therefore, you must help remedy the social decay and relieve
the social despair that is before you.
You must do the best you can with the tools that you
So GRADUATES we need your help to keep this generation
and generations yet unborn to not be conformed to this
world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds.
We need your help to show the world that the sowing of
thoughts leads to reaping wicked deeds. We need you to
convince your peers and others that behavior is a mirror
in which we show our image.
SNOOP DOGGY DOGG says "Bow, Wow, Wow, Yippy Yo,
And our nation's youth are so in love with these lyrics
that young people repeat the terminology with fervor calling
each other dogs behaving like dogs. But I've stopped by
to tell you that "If you lie down with dogs, you
will get up with fleas!
For those young folk who say, "I don't see any harm
in Gansta Rap that is a nasty as it wants to be."
We need your help to say that the dust of worldliness
is in their eyes.
The reason I say this is because too many of our young
folk appear to be so caught up in the talk that they seldom
realize that derogatory TALK can lead them to a deadly
I've witnessed known criminals "Livin" what
Ricky Martin calls "La Vida Loca" - being treated
as respected members of this Miami Dade County community.
We need you GRADUATES to turn this dysfunctional obscenity
Mariah Carey says "THANK GOD I FOUND YOU" and
Toni Braxton claims, "HE WASN'T MAN ENOUGH"
Aaliyah (A LEE AH) suggest that you "TRY AGAIN."
And the 4-1-1 on Sisqo would have young ladies caught
up in the "THONG SONG." But I don't care what
Sisqo says young ladies you must stand up and stand firm,
because if you don't stand for something you will fall
SO even though the 504 Boyz cries "WOBBLE WOBBLE"
young ladies you must help your sisters not to WOBBLE
but to overcome the legacy of inequality and stop becoming
mothers before they become wives;
Let me remind you that young men don't want no PIGEONS.
Let me also say this, If a young man is "hitting
on you" and he is in school, studying hard, and making
all "A's" tell him to keep on talking.
But if he is "OFF THE CHAIN" hanging out, flunking
out and dropping out, tell him to keep on walking - you
don't need nobody to help you do bad, you can do bad all
by yourself. Follow the advise of Erica Badu and tell
those young bucks to "Call Tyrone. But don't use
your phone." Tell the you don't want "NO SCRUBS."
Carl Thomas declares "I WISH" - well I wish
young men would
strive for academic-determination - therefore I am calling
upon you graduates and scholars to help our young men
stop becoming fathers before they become husbands.
Oh yes, Sammie says "I LIKE IT" well I would
truly like GRADUATES if you were about the business of
improving the quality of our existence, reforming heads
and transforming hearts, As Jo Jo and Casey explains "All
of your life."
USHER urges you-to take it "NICE AND SLOW"
but DESTINY'S CHILD says "No, No, No!" Black
Rob says "WHOA" And I say, when our young folk
learn to say "WHOA" that is to STOP acting a
fool in the schoolhouse they wont have to worry about
doing time in the jail house.
Cash Money (CMB) says "THIS IS MY LIFE." True,
this is your life, therefore you must help our people
"Represent" - you must work to help strengthen
our families and because - now - you have the sophistication,
edification and determination you can follow the advise
of Trick Daddy and tell all THOSE who are caught up looking
good rather than being good "Ah HUH O. K. WHAT'S
UP -SHUT UP."
Permit me to lift from Lou Bega's Mambo #5 - this translation:
You see service is the price you must pay for the space
Like DMX says "Ya'll Gon Make Lose My Mind- up in
Don't whine about what you don't have, be thankful for
what you do have.
Let me try to make this plain with these rhythmatic words.
Today I saw upon a bus a handsome man with wavy hair,
he looked so stately I envied him, and wished that I was
Until suddenly he rose to leave, I saw him hobble down
the aisle, he had one leg and used a crutch, and as he
passed a glowing smile. God forgive me when Whine, I have
two legs - this world is mine.
Then I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad that sold
them seemed so warm, It seemed so nice to talk with him,
if I be late would do no harm. And as I left he said to
me, thank you for being so kind, It's nice to talk to
folks like you, you see he said am blind. God forgive
me when I whine, I have two eyes - this world is mine.
Then later, walking down the street, I saw a child with
eyes so blue, She watched the others as they played, it
seemed she knew not what to do. I stopped a moment and
I said, why don't you join the others dear? She looked
ahead without a word, then I knew she had not heard. God
forgive me when I whine, I have two ears - this world
Two legs to take me where I go; Two eyes to see the sunlight
glow; Two wars to hear what I should know. 0 God forgive
me when I whine, I'm blessed indeed -
this world is mine!
GRADUATES YOU ARE INDEED blessed.
BLESSED with affectionate, considerate and loving parents
or guardians. BLESSED with living in one of the most prosperous
times in human history. BLESSED to have attended one of
the top schools in the nation.
BLESSED to have been nurtured by some of the most qualified
professional administrators, teachers and support staff
in the annuals of American Education.
BLESSED to be among the best students in this country.
So as you go forward in your quest for excellence - live
so that all of the Host of HEAVEN will have to pause and
say there goes a great people, GRADUATES of the year 2000
who realize that they are equipped with all that they
need to be successful in life.
So GRADUATES run on and see what the end will be.
Run and don't get weary, walk and don't faint.
Yes, I have been around long enough to say with some
degree of certainty, that
I have been young and now I am old and I have never seen
the righteous forsaken nor his seed beg for bread.
True, weeping may endure THE NIGHT but if you REMEMBER,
RESPECT and REPAY: There will be JOY! Unspeakable JOY!
Undeniable JOY! Unquestionable JOY! JOY! JOY! JOY! In