‘Talented Tenth’ In Student Leaders Addressed By Tavis Smiley
- October 28, 2008
The Talented Tenth High School Tour 2008, and its lecturer and media personality Tavis Smiley, stopped by McKinley High School on Friday, October 24.
Smiley’s lecture is best described as a master class for tomorrow's leaders. This world-renown talk show host gave direct instruction to and critiques of gifted students who have the potential to be masters of their craft.
The Tour’s host paid homage to WEB Dubois by naming it after his landmark initiative, and he described Dubois as one of the “greatest intellectuals of all time.” The tour, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola and the US Navy, is based on the Dubois quote, “The talented tenth must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people. … Education must not simply teach work, it must teach life.” The event tries to inspire young leaders of today to become the adult leaders of tomorrow.
In every generation, Smiley said we must identify the 10 percent of people who can be trained to be our leaders. Such leadership is especially important for these students, because Smiley said “The numbers indicate very clearly that your generation is slated to be the first generation in America to not do as well as your parent’s generation.” He also said there is “no excuse, no reason, no justification” for the current generations to allow that to happen.
Under Smiley’s philosophy, he said there are three ways today’s students can proceed in life. “Learn how to be Socratic,” he said. He challenged the students to be like the philosopher and be introspective about their lives and the legacies they leave.
His second piece of advice was to have the right definition of leadership. Smiley advocated his definition, which is, “You can’t lead people if you don’t love people, and you can’t save people unless you serve people. If you call yourself a leader and you look behind and nobody is following you, you’re just going for a walk.” He added that love is at the epicenter of leadership. “Everyone is worthy of love just because,” he said.
Finally, Smiley urged everyone to find his or her purpose or divine calling. “You don’t want a job. You need to find you calling, your purpose, your vocation, your divine calling,” he said. “What is that gift you are suppose to be sharing with the world? What is your voice?”
Students were inspired by Smiley and his advice. Senior, Travis Williams said, “Tavis Smiley is by far the best speaker that I have heard to date. Not only does he believe in his message, he lives it. That message being leadership, he said ‘you can’t lead people if you don’t love people, and you can’t save people unless you serve people.’ It makes me wonder if one African-American man can make it in life why can’t I?”
Emmanuel Caulk, assistant superintendent for High School Programs, said, “I think it was extremely informative. Every student should have heard what he had to say about being a leader. Mr. Smiley has given these students a tremendous challenge in terms of what to aspire to. His charge to them to, ‘find your own voice’ is one that needs to be resonated in every secondary school in our school system. I, too, wish more students would stand up and say, ‘I am a leader. I am an independent thinker. I am a critical thinker. And I think for myself.’”
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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