My father told me I could do and be anything I wanted to be, if I dreamed and worked hard enough for it. I took these words to heart, despite growing up in the Jim Crow era in Marlboro County, South Carolina.
Today, too many children in Marlboro County and throughout America are not being taught to dream and to work hard for a better future. Unemployment in my home county has hovered between 16 and 20% for long periods of time and many children there have never seen anyone in their family able to find a job and go to work. I was deeply saddened by a story I heard recently about three young teen boys who were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. The first boy said he wanted to work at McDonald’s; the second boy said he wanted to be Spiderman and when pushed for a real person, he could not think of one; and the third boy drew a boy lying on the ground and said he was going to be dead before he grew up.