Friday, February 10, 2012

Feb 10, 2012 - Speech for YABC Graduation

Know History; Know Self

Good Evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honor to be here today as the keynote speaker for the Young Adult Borough Center Graduation Ceremony. I want to sincerely thank the YABC staff and community for allowing me to be here today. I want to acknowledge the family and friends who are here to support this graduation ceremony. And I especially want to dedicate my speech entitled “Know History; Know Self” as an inspirational message to the graduating students of YABC. Can you please give yourselves a round of applause?..........

I will begin with a moment of silence for those who cannot be here today......Amen! It is a great blessing to be alive! I give thanks to be able to breath, to see, to hear, to feel and to be alive in the unique historical moment of 2012. February is Black History Month in America! Although I am not African American, I acknowledge and celebrate the significance of what Black History Month represents. It is a time of reflection, confirmation and action. A time to reflect on the great movements of the past that have paved the way for the freedoms we have today. A time to confirm who we are and how we live in this world. A time to take action on continuing the struggle to bring about justice and freedom for future generations.

My speech is entitled “Know History; Know Self” because I understand that not only have my experiences made me who I am today but also my families history and my communities history have influenced my identity. This is so important to acknowledge especially as the students of the Young Adult Borough Center graduate into another stage of life because when we look back we see not only struggle but also a rich and diverse legacy of freedom fighters and truth seekers. At some point in your past you choose education as your path in life. This path is not only reserved for when we are young but I would like to make a statement that education is a life-long process. We will always be educating ourselves on the constant changes of the world and how we respond to it. We will always be learning something new about life. There is a vast world that exists that can take a life time to attempt to understand and even when it is all said and done, there will still be questions. Education is a key that can set us free in possessing the open mindedness and personal drive that can take us to every country on this planet; Education is a key that unlocks and connects us to our great history and legacy; Education is an opportunity for those who seize it to be a force that leaves its mark for all of eternity

Know History; Know Self!

In this fast paced world that we live in, where millions of messages enter in and out of our minds on a regular basis, lets take a moment to remember all of the trials and tribulations that brought us here today. Especially for the students who will be moving forward in your lives lets remember the unique roads that you had to go through...Take a moment to think about your family and friends that supported you in your life. …. Take a moment to acknowledge the mistakes we have made, the challenges that helped us see parts of ourselves that we did not know existed within us and the accomplishments that allows us to be here in celebration of your graduation.

Know History; Know Self

Since I was 18 years old my spirit embraced the historical struggle to fight for freedom and justice. When I tapped into my minds power source I could never see the world the same again! For the past two years I have been on a journey throughout America to spread the messages that I call Universal Self. Its quite simple, the universe exists within ourselves. And every person is his or her own universe but we exist in ONE universe. Hence the Universal Self. It started as a solo theater production about my life as a young man in urban America. I answered the calling to share my personal story to the world but to do it in a way where universal messages can bring us together. From adult inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California to Ivy League College students; From communities in the South Bronx and Brooklyn to communities in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Washington DC; From African Americans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans to Asians, Caucasian and everyone under the sun....I have shared my personal story because I felt it had a universal message for all people and when I learned how other people related to my story I realized that we can achieve cross cultural unity by beginning with personal healing which begins with sharing our own personal stories..... As a result, I will take Universal Self to anyone who wants to experience it.

I share this with you because you possess your own universal story; you hold the universe within yourself; you have been through heaven and hell and you are still here to testify to the lessons of life. What excites me is the vision of us coming together on a real level, sharing our truths, sharing our joys and pains without reservation. Instead of looking at the destructive forces that exists in this world, I pay my attention to the possibilities that exists when we use the blueprint that our ancestors left behind for us through their lives to transform how we treat ourselves and each other. Lets not be afraid to heal together, by coming together, and when we are finally together we can claim what is rightfully ours! Our struggles have built America and our education will save humanity.

Like James Baldwin, a great African American leader and writer, I am no longer concerned with my race, my sex or my religious or spiritual background...I am most concerned with how my generation will meet the callings of progress and positive transformation for humanity.

Know History; Know Self

We are living in a challenging time....There is violence in the Middles East and violence on American streets. People like Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Barack and Michele Obama help me understand that education and wisdom is more intelligent than this reactive violence that works to keep us apart, to keep us in fear, to keep us in ignorant stereotypes of each other.... But there are people like the students of the Young Adult Borough Center who are graduating today that remind me that we are not alone in choosing education as one of the main solutions to solving the problems of our generation. It is important to embrace this reality because in the next 10-20 years we, and that means you and I will be running this country! We are the leaders we have been waiting for. El Hajj Malik El Shabazz AKA Malcolm X once said,

“Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

When we search for truth we realize that the recession is one challenge we will overcome....

When we search for truth we realize that we do not need drugs as a comfort because we realize drugs has been a cancer that will always kill social movements for progress...

When we search for truth we are not afraid or blinded by the technological revolution rather we see its revolutionary potential just like Egyptians did during the Arab spring.....

When we search for truth we can find ourselves!!!!

So I ask you all, especially the graduating students of the Young Adult Borough Center to search for truth......

Know History; Know Self

I want to conclude my speech today with some messages that came to me within the past couple of weeks as I was preparing for today:

1) Love yourself. Don’t ever let anyone darken your shine! Build your confidence with love and you will always shine through........

2) Surround yourself with people who are changing the world
Surround yourself with Kings and you will be a King
Surround yourself with fools and you will be a fool
*Your association will determine your destination*

3) Commit to a lifetime of education.

4) Strive for your Universal Self by dreaming FAR and always give back to the community

In 3 years, in the year 2015, America will celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. To the graduating students of YABC, 3 years from now you may be in college, you may be working in a career of your desire....And I ask you to ask yourself what does it mean stand on the shoulders of your ancestors struggle? What does it mean to fight for freedom? What does it mean to search for truth? What does it mean to be 150 years from the emancipation proclamation? I wish you all the best. Do not be afraid, the struggle is beautiful! Right now, its all about you. Whatever you want to do, do it, do it with pride, do it with love, do it for the people who love you, do it to live up to your purpose in life...Do it now because tomorrow is not promised! And remember........

Know History; Know Self
Know your History and you will Know Yourself
Thank you very much
May God bless us all

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