This is exactly (and only) what the young people at GoLightly Career & Technical Center needed when Glenn Hansen and I visited early on Tuesday, April 19th, 2005, here in Detroit, Michigan. Glenn is a senior vice president and branch manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch, and part of the reason I "showed up." Download my MP3 audio remarks here...
This morning was particularly inspiring, because I was in a mood to have a real, down to earth and serious discussion with a group of 80 black young men and woman at a critical crossroad in their lives. They were going to make decisions over the course of the next couple of years that would absolutely define the quality of their lives...and I wanted to do everything I could to press them into the direction of progress.
Just read my posts from earlier this week and you will sense my frustration with the state of black people, and particularly YOUNG black people in America today. And so....I wasn't about to lose a group of prime Detroit black youth -- sitting right in front of me! I don't THINK so. And so, with the Federal Reserve Bank officials, along with a television camera crew from a local television station in the room, I blocked it all out and had a "family" discussion with these young people. We "talked together," in a blunt but loving fashion that said "I love you, but you need to do right in your life! Be 100% accountable for what happens to you, period."
The conversation went well -- very well, as I recall. At one point I remember telling them that I expected them to "raise their own children....I mean, finish middle school and high school, then college, get a college degree, get a job but preferably a career, ...get married and then have children...and in THAT order!" They got a kick out of that, but I could not have been more serious.
Glenn wrapped it all up with a summary of not only what the Federal Reserve did (I am always amazed at how much MONEY flows through this place on any one given day... and how most of America just says "oh, the Fed, yea that's Alan Greenspan," and that's about it. It is sooooo much more), and then gave the young people a bonus of sorts, by talking about his own life.
By the time we finished we had talked to youth (who confirmed in their questions and responses afterwards that they had indeed taken it all in, and learned....), met a group of visitors from Canada (who asked me to come there to speak too...), and then spoke with teachers and administrators from the school.
Onward, with HOPE