I'm learning that in life, it's important to dream big dreams. Five years ago, I said that I wanted the world to know about Booker Wright. This past July, Dateline NBC aired an hour long special about him. There's talk about partnering with an educational company to make our movie, Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story, available for schools to purchase. That means that kids around the country might be taught the story of Booker Wright while they're learning about Medgar Evers and Rosa Parks. My wildest dream is coming true. So, why stop there. I'm having another, incredibly wild dream.
Blogging about it now feels incredibly nuts, because this dream is in its infancy. The edges of it are fuzzy and none of the details have been worked out. But, like I've said more times than I can count, this blog space is nothing more than a record of my Booker Wright journey. So, here's my new dream:
A couple of weeks ago, a woman who is now my HERO, called with an amazing idea. Her name is Lynn Roer and she is the Director of Moving Images, Alternative Content and Events at Ogilvy and Mather (whew, that's a mouthful) - Ogilvy and Mather partnered with Raymond De Felitta to help produce our film. Lynn had this great idea about turning Booker's Place into a place for school children who may need school supplies, a bite to eat, or even free tutoring.
This is the perfect way to honor my grandfather's legacy for one reason - he was all about education. Booker Wright didn't get to go school because he had to work to support his family. He entered adulthood without literacy. Not being able to read never sat well with him. I've heard that, a few years before he was murdered, Booker hired a tutor and he finally achieved his lifelong dream of learning to read.
I've met scores of adults who knew Booker when they were kids and they all describe a man who was a broken record when it came to talking about the importance of getting an education. He even held back money from the paychecks of some of his employees, only to hand them a wad of cash when it was time for them to go out and buy school supplies. He bought a bus to drive kids from outlying farming towns into Greenwood so that they could attend Head Start and on and on. You see why I love him, so. He was a great man, even when no one was watching.
The original idea was to re-open Booker's Place in Greenwood, Mississippi. The wild idea is to have a Booker's Place in every state and, one day, in every major city. Booker's Place could be a corner or a bookshelf in a library with free school supplies. It could be a place to call and make an appointment for free tutoring.
The point is that lots of kids slip through the cracks because they can't even come up with the basics. My kids recently went to public school for the first time and I was amazed at all the stuff I had to buy for them - it was not cheap and I know that a lot of families simply can't carry the financial burden.
So, come on, let's start a movement. Please don't think that all you can do is provide money. Talk about this. Facebook about it. Get the people you know energized. We'll need supplies, volunteers, ideas, and influence, but more than anything, we'll need you to care and to stay engaged.
Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I'll be sending out updates on Booker's Place each month to let you know how we're doing and to ask your help in getting the word out.
Shouldn't every kid get a fair shot at an education? Join with me, to do all that we can to make that happen.