Dr. Paul David Smith, Chattanooga Public Safety coordinator and a distinguished former educator, was the guest speaker at Saturday morning’s annual Bradley County NAACP Community Breakfast at …
Dr. Paul David Smith, Chattanooga Public Safety coordinator and a distinguished former educator, was the guest speaker at Saturday morning’s annual Bradley County NAACP Community Breakfast at Bradley Central High School.
Dr. Smith said they are trying to change the lives of at-risk students in Chattanooga. He issued a challenge to the people of Cleveland and Bradley County to “Live the Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and not just follow the dream.
He said in Chattanooga’s Violence Reduction Initiative, they are attempting to “give these young people a hand.”
“You’re here because of your commitment to your community,” Smith told those attending Saturday’s breakfast.
“But, are you living the dream?” he asked.
“When Dr. King joined this work, it was about the struggles of all people, not just black people, but all people,” he said.
“His fight was so we can all attend events like this, if we’re living the dream,” he continued.
The award-winning educator said Cleveland has the potential of being one of the greatest cities in the country.
Then he had questions for the residents of the community, and all communities.
“Are we showing the next generation that we’re reaching out to them?” he asked. “Do they see us as reaching out to them? Are we teaching them to eat, drink, and be merry, or are we teaching them to continue to work and follow the dream?”
Smith said in our schools “we’re looking out for the brightest and the best.”
“What about those others?” he asked. “What about those who work hard to get a C?”
He said we have to teach all our young people that this is not the time to say, “We have it made!”
“We need to be a people who continue to work and follow the dream,” he added. “We don’t need to look down at people, but we need to do something about the next generation.”
He said his team (in Chattanooga) has reached into the schools, and asked them to give them their students who are not doing well.
“We have 16 black and one white students, and we’re asking ourselves what we can do to help them do better.”
“Do you remember the Crack Generation?” Smith asked. “Well, these are the children of those children.”
He said the next generation will have our fingerprints on it. “If they don’t do well, it’s not their fault. It’s ours,” he emphasized.
“If we’re going to live the dream, it has to be for a purpose,” Smith added. “In Chattanooga, we’re building a village (of these children).”
“These young people should see us as role models,” Smith added. “They should be standing over our casket (one day), and saying nice things about us.”
Smith asked those in attendance, “Are you talking about young people, or talking to young people?”
“A lot of young people see us as leaders,” he said, adding this is something we have to do (and be) if we’re following the dream.
“You need to create successes for your young people,” he said.
NAACP President RaSharon King in her closing remarks said the chapter will attempt to meet Dr. Smith’s challenge.
Lavinia Johnson was the mistress of Saturday morning’s ceremony. Executive committee member and President of the 100 Black Men of Bradley County Demetrius Ramsey provided the welcome. Billie Blair presented a song. David Richards introduced the guest speaker.
Richards was at Tyner High School when Dr. Smith was at the school.
— Saturday’s breakfast was one of several events in Cleveland this weekend in recognition of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The NAACP chapter will have a 4 p.m. worship service today at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
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