In this season of heightened political rhetoric, we hear an awful lot about “entitlement programs,” slashing budgets for human welfare programs (among others) and improving the condition of our nation.
It is so refreshing, when I am reminded of one local group who, for the last 25 years, has taken it upon themselves to try to do something about the state of our young people.
I am speaking of Ebenezer Baptist Church’s “Manhood/Womanhood Training” program.
I am a huge fan of Rev. George P. Windley, the pastor of that church. I remember as a new reporter, I covered a live Nativity scene that his church and Little Star Pentecostal Church were doing TOGETHER.
We can all agree that for the most part, churches in our community – and beyond – are the most segregated places on the planet. While I have always chalked that up to a “style” issue, I’m sure that this segregation would not be something that is “pleasing in His sight,” if you get my drift.
When I went to hear about this community Nativity scene project and asked Reverend Windley about this, I got a mini-sermon on why God would not have us so divided and what better thing to come together for? He is just so cool. If Darth Vader had been from the south, he would have sounded just like Reverend Windley.
Reverend Windley began his training program, initially just for young men, after working in the prison system and seeing how few of the inmates had father figures and how the mother figures, try though they might, were just not getting the job done. He later saw that girls needed the same kind of training.
So many of us have come to rely on the school system to teach things like etiquette, dressing for success, responsibility and respect for one’s body. With how much more can we overwhelm teachers? I don’t remember having to be taught these things in school. My parents did, even if it took a hickory switch to make a point. (My mother was a big fan of the fly swatter and I assure you, a lesson learned at the end of that thing was not soon forgotten.)
When I sit in the High Commander’s office (window on the world) sometimes, I am appalled at the manners that kids (of all colors and ethnicities) walking down Brooks Street display. Young men and women are screaming obscenities at each other, even in fun. Young women are dressed in what appear to be little more than underwear and of course, there are the baggy pants. Folks, these are kids of ALL ethnicities. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this behavior belongs to one race or cultural group.
And likewise, don’t be fooled into thinking that kids are going to learn proper behavior in school. At best, schools should be expected to reinforce the manners and character they learn at home. And when kids don’t get that at home, teachers spend precious instructional time dealing with the fallout.
And for you Ebenezer Baptist Church, I want to salute you in recognizing that maybe parents can’t go it all alone. Thank you for finding a fun, engaging way to “Train up a child in the way he should go.” I wish you could find a way to spread this program farther. Every family could use this assistance and then maybe we wouldn’t be expecting the school to do it. Or complain when these same children end up in jail or in the social services program.
It gives me hope.