The occasion was the 2013 Scholarship & Mentoring Banquet hosted by 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. The location was the Deacon Jones Dining Hall on the beautiful Lee University campus. And the atmosphere was a vibrant Saturday evening.
Most importantly, the keynote speaker was Vincent Phipps, president of the Chattanooga-based Communication VIP. Phipps is an inspiring entrepreneur who urged his young listeners to live by a code of conduct that helped to shape him during his impressionable years.
He called it “The Three P’s of Purpose.”
In general, these three P’s are for everyone, but they are especially relevant to youth, Phipps told his young scribes, as well as a dining hall filled with parents, grandparents, siblings, families, community leaders, mentors and all who support the people-minded mission of 100 Black Men of Bradley County.
For any unfamiliar with the organization’s theme, it is simple and spot on: “Breaking The Cycle ... Reaching Out ... Reaching Back.” It isn’t a charge limited to a once-a-year banquet. It is the reason for being for this nonprofit group and it is the role that is modeled by a collection of adult mentors whose volunteerism knows no bounds within the black community.
As for those three P’s described by the program’s keynote speaker, they are “Persistence,” “Positivity” and “Pride.”
Ours is merely an interpretation of Phipps’ informative message. To best appreciate its power, one needed to have been among those attending the dynamic event.
Of “Persistence,” the keynote speaker told the young and the old, and all those somewhere in between, “You have got to make it a persistent habit to be excellent; it has got to be your norm.” He told his Cleveland and Bradley County listeners of his own experience growing up. Under his parents’ roof, “A ‘C’ wasn’t good enough in my house. A ‘C’ was average. My mother said, ‘You are not average, so you will not act accordingly. You will act as excellent [because that] is what you are.’”
Whether from parents or a mentor, these are good words. They tell the story of an adult who sees greatness in the potential of any young person.
Of “Positivity,” Phipps said he fears this is a trait lacking in many of today’s youth. “There are too many times I’m seeing our young people walk around mad, ticked off,” he stressed. “When I look at our future, I see all the beauty of our future.”
Looking at life through a pair of rose-colored glasses, some might question? Absolutely not. Seeing the future through eyes of true vision, and not concession, is the mark of a leader, one whose value to a younger generation is unlimited.
Of “Pride,” it’s both a physical and internal mechanism. Pride in appearance gives students a glow and a conspicuous bounce in their step. Pride spiritually, emotionally and mentally keeps a student focused on goals of the future, and not on tribulations of the past.
Youngsters who strive for excellence inevitably will face mongers who will “hate on them,” but Phipps urged local students not to stray from a path of achievement simply because of animosity by others. Young people, he said, should concern themselves with their parents and teachers. These are the opinions that most influence a child’s future.
Although Phipps’ inspiring message was delivered to a local group of mentees who look to 100 Black Men of Bradley County for leadership — and positive direction — it could just as easily have been presented to an impressionable young person of any race or culture, and either gender.
We thank Vincent Phipps for visiting our hometown and for reaching out.
Success stories like his are instrumental in “Breaking The Cycle” of poverty, crime and violence that still pervades too many Cleveland and Bradley County households.