An Open Letter to the Class of 2006

2006-05-20

Richard Moore

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Date: Tue, 09 May 2006 21:52:21 -0700
Subject:  To the Class of 2006 from Coach Moore
From: Liz Burbank <>

http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/2006/05/open-letter-to-class-of-2006.html

An Open Letter to the Class of 2006
by Paul Moore
5/8/06

You are about to graduate from Miami Carol City High School and no 
matter what your score on Jeb Bush's test; almost all of you have 
earned a diploma. As Jay Z once rhymed, "It's a hard knock life for 
us / Stead of treated, we get tricked / Stead of kisses, we get 
kicked / It's the hard knock life." You have your doctoral degrees in 
the school of hard knocks.

During the 23 years I have spent at Carol City High it seems like the 
students have gotten better every year. The Class of '06 is no 
exception. To watch you struggle with life's modern complexity and 
still perform so well in the classroom, on stage, in the athletic 
arena and in the community has been uplifting.

You are a group of brilliant and talented young people. I say that 
even to the person who stole my cell phone a few weeks ago and sent 
17 text messages before the service was cut off. As a teacher I just 
hope you enhanced your writing skills and got some wisdom in those 
seven return messages.

You know when your class started the journey through this high school 
four years ago you were nearly a thousand strong. There are but 492 
of you left. Even more tragically there will be several empty chairs 
at the graduation ceremonies on May 25th. Evan Page should have been 
there. But Evan was murdered down the street from MCC just after we 
celebrated Thanksgiving. Sherika Wilson Lynch should have been there, 
her 16-month-old baby Ahmani sitting with a proud family in the 
audience. But Sherika was murdered on a trip to the store in Opa 
Locka's notorious Triangle while many of you were off to Grad Bash.

Even though he attended Northwestern High School, our own Mrs. 
Anderson's beloved son James "JT" Anderson would have no doubt been 
in there to see his sister Nichelle graduate. But James was cut down 
too on our mean streets. Then just the other day Devon Sutton also 
fell. At the wake for "JT" and the memorial for "Scooter" hundreds of 
young people wore shirts bearing their pictures. Nowadays it is 
commonplace for youths to dress in images of their dead classmates, 
teammates, friends or relatives.

The violent death of so many young people is evidence that our 
society is in a terrible mess. We have come to such a cold hard place 
that a 14-year-old boy can be suffocated in a state-run boot camp and 
a child can be labeled a failure before their 9th birthday. This 
month the Florida Department of Education will notify 28,600 kids 
that they failed the FCAT and to be certain they internalize this 
blow to their self-image they will be held back in 3rd grade. Don't 
just be sad about these things. Just before he was killed Malcolm X 
said, "Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just 
cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about 
change." Things must change!

If you decide to fight for a better world, you will confront very 
powerful forces. You must meet those forces with unity! Don't be 
tricked into fighting and killing each other by those who care 
nothing for you or nothing will change. Your classmates in this 
school are your brothers and sisters. No matter their race, no matter 
their language, no matter their nationality, they are your only hope 
of winning this struggle!

Down 183rd Street at Norland, across 183rd at Pace, up 183rd at 
American you have brothers and sisters. At Northwestern, Edison, and 
Central you have more brothers and sisters. In Detroit, Atlanta, New 
Orleans and rural Kansas you have more brothers and sisters. The 
students marching out of their schools from Los Angeles to Homestead 
for immigrant rights are your brothers and sisters too. The students 
from Florida A&M, FSU and Tallahassee Community College who sat in 
Governor Bush's office demanding justice for Martin Lee Anderson and 
his family are your older brothers and sisters and excellent role 
models.

While you are putting on the cap and gown consider the words of a man 
executed in the State of California during this school year. Stanley 
"Tookie" Williams wrote, "Across this nation, countless young men and 
women, like you, are vegetating in juvenile halls and in youth 
authorities. More and more prisons are being constructed to 
accommodate your generation when you grow to adulthood. The question 
is, can you become motivated enough to defy the expectations that 
many people have of you?"

You will answer Tookie's question with the rest of your lives. Good 
luck Class of 2006!

Coach Moore
-- 

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