With everything going on in the world, we need to share a feel good story. This one reminds us all that America is still a great land of opportunity — regardless of those who are trying to make it a terra firm of dependency. As Emma Lazarus wrote, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Those famed words greeted so many who came to our American shores and were met by Lady Liberty. Here was a place one could call home and be rewarded for his or her own personal, individual drive, determination and desire to excel.
And such is the case for one young man, as reported by the New York Post, “A Nassau County whiz kid who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools — a year after another Long Island teen hit the rare academic jackpot. Elmont Memorial High School senior Harold Ekeh boasts a grade-point average of 100.5 percent, an SAT score of 2270 and was a semifinalist for the national Intel Science Talent Search.”
“My parents’ hard work and my hard work finally paid off,” Ekeh, 17, told The Post. Ekeh now has his pick of the nation’s elite institutions of higher learning: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania — none of which accepts more than 14 percent of applicants. He’s leaning toward Yale, where Kwasi Enin, 18, the son of Ghanaian immigrants from Mastic Beach, LI, who achieved the Ivy sweep last year, now attends.”
“Ekeh moved to New York from Nigeria at age 8 and wowed admissions officers with an essay about the challenges he braved while “coming to America,” he said. “My parents left comfortable lives in Nigeria for their kids to have opportunities. So I take advantage of every single opportunity that has been afforded to me,” said Ekeh, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon.”Perhaps young Harold will follow in the footsteps of another great American story, that of Dr. Ben Carson who rose from the inner city of Detroit to become a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. Did you notice that one single word of which Harold spoke: opportunity? He honored the sacrifices of his parents with a sincere dedication to make them proud. There was once a time in the black community when children lived to honor the legacy of their parents — hard to do now when the black family has been destroyed. And what is noticeable is that both of these two young men who have truly run the table are sons of immigrants from Africa. Where are the young black men from America who are achieving such an impeccable standard?
Yes, what is the difference between Harold Ekeh, Kwasi Enin, and shall we say, Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin, who both tragically lost their lives? Where is Al Sharpton or the other race baiters who would demand better education opportunities for young black men? Oops, I forgot, it was Rev. Al who agreed with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to shut down Charter Schools in the city — even as one of the highest performing schools in NYC is Success Academy, a charter school, in Harlem. It reminds me of this quote from black educator Booker T. Washington:
“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
However, it’s not just de Blasio in New York — many fail to recall it was the “first black president” who in April 2009 cancelled the D.C. school voucher program. It was the “first black attorney general” who brought a lawsuit against the school choice program in Louisiana.
So the question has to be, do they really want to see more young Mr. Ekehs or Mr. Enins? Well, because of the high academic standards of their two-parent households, the talons of the dependency society and the infectious nature of the welfare nanny-state cannot penetrate. Sadly, those of Sharpton’s ilk traipse about with the false political narrative of “black lives matter” but have no heartfelt desire to do the one thing that ensures lives matter — a quality education.
Read this excerpt from the New York Post article and ask yourself why isn’t this the story all over the inner cities of America?
“In his free time, he does what most other teens his age don’t do — toiling over biochemistry experiments. His grandma’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis — and his own inspiration to find a cure for the degenerative brain disease — fueled his passion for science, he said. The hardworking student, a salutatorian who also plays the drums, mentors and volunteers for a social-justice campaign, credited his parents, Paul and Roselin — former clerks at a Target store in Queens — for challenging him to study and do his best, “no matter how hard times got,” he said. “No matter how many times they would get knocked down, they were always positive,” he said. “Anybody who sees my story can say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ I’m just a kid who had a real strong support system.”
No gangs, no drugs, no discipline issues or criminal record — why can’t this be achieved elsewhere and by all? And, where is his Rose Garden ceremony? Surely if the parents of a deserter could have one, then the parents of Harold Ekeh should? I just pray that young Harold doesn’t fall under the spell of liberal progressive socialism and come to believe in the guarantee of happiness instead of what he has achieved — the indomitable individual drive for the pursuit of happiness and excellence.
Harold Ekeh didn’t need someone to ensure he got a trophy. He realized he is free to earn his own accolades — his “fair share” of the American dream. My hope is that we can restore that belief in our future generations, especially in the black community where too many households are producing young black men who believe their only escape is via rap music or sports. There is another way.
Thankfully Harold Ekeh and Kwasi Enin are shining examples who should be celebrated — not derided and denigrated for “talking white” or not being “really black.” Those are the words of the crabs in the barrel — something my mom taught me about in the Kroger grocery store as a young man. Which is why I set my sights on getting out of that barrel.