#Fullcircle. I couldn’t muster the words of what he really meant to me that night. So Here’s my story:
When I was 16 years old, I struggled to find my identity as young black male in High School. I had the mind and soul of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglass, Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela but I was not accepted because I was too different or what people may call “radical”–I was so conflicted by the stereotypes in music, television, and social cliques, that I didn’t know “Who I was” at that time. However I pushed through those negative stereotypes, because of what one voicemail did for me. A voicemail that was left for me by none other than Dr. Cornel West.
In pursuit of finding my voice in High School, I wrote a speech called “Fear”–a speech that came to be the cradle of my creativity and charisma. But the problem was, nobody REALLY took the time to consider what I had to say–most importantly my ideas. And so, I did the most tenacious thing a high school student could ever do: send a letter to one of the most well-known and respected professors in the academia world today, Dr. Cornel West, and ask for feedback (and possibly a letter of recommendation). Although I didn’t get everything that I wanted, his voicemail was more than enough to put me on a right path to college, where I’ve graduated honorably from SDSU, and evidently into Suffolk Law School.
This month marks the 8th year anniversary of a voicemail of a lifetime, when a young man’s future is shaped by the words of a hero: love, compassion, and courage to chase your dreams.
That night was so emotional that I ended up crying, because I am in Law School now; I’ve done so many great things since that voicemail. I spent all of my college years going state-to-state (from California to New Jersey and New York) to remind him “Who I am.” But now I didn’t go anywhere. He came to me in a town where I have called my second home, Boston. And I reminded him again but only this time with, “I am what I am because you loved me.”
I want to send Harvard Book Store “A Special Thank You” for hosting this event, and making this FullCircle Experience possible. And once again I apologize to those who didn’t get their chance to ask their questions due to my tearful testimony. I hope Dr. Cornel West was able to answer them.
Thank you Dr. Cornel West; it has truly been a long journey for me. I will continue to love the way you have loved me when I needed it.
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A Special Thank you to Mark Jones from Florissant, Missouri for capturing these two photos. I had no idea that Dr. Cornel West was tearing up too.