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‘The visit’ – a view from the living room

It was almost like I was there, in the crowd, ready to move the tassle to the other side of the cap. by Karanja A.M. Ajanaku
Special to the Tri-State Defender

I waited impatiently in line at the convenience store as the 12 o’clock hour approached. “Three fifty,” the clerk said. I put my $5 bill on the counter, took my candy and newspaper and ran to the car.

It took no time to get home, since the streets were just about empty. Before I could put my key all the way in the lock, I heard a loud, familiar monotone. My cousin, Lawrence Milton, 21, was visiting from the Air Force and had Joe Birch and Ursula Madden  on all three TVs in the house, with the volumes turned up loud.

 WMC-TV’s anchor crew of Joe Birch and Ursula Madden interview former Memphis Mayor and BTW graduate Dr. Willie W. Herenton prior to President Obama’s appearance. (Photo by Brian Ramoly)

As I got my pad and pen to take notes for this article, my cousin laughed at the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr.’s story about legendary BTW principal Blair T. Hunt throwing the school bell in the hallway to maintain control. As Whalum, Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Congressman Steve Cohen, and The LeMoyne-Owen College President Johnnie B. Watson were interviewed about the encouraging words the President would give the students, I couldn’t help but think about the high school I attended and the graduation that I wasn’t a part of because of some decisions I made.

But it was almost like I was there, in the crowd, ready to move the tassle to the other side of the cap. Although a nice daydream, the reality is that if I keep my head directed forward, don’t look back, and focused on where I want to go, I will succeed.

That was one of the many points that President Obama made at the podium. And no matter if you were in kindergarten, high school or a senior citizen, you should’ve gotten something out of that speech.

In the middle of my mind-rewind and the President’s words, I checked my Twitter for some views from my peers.

Carmen Flowers, 18, said her tears hadn’t stopped since President Obama said, “Hello Memphis.”

Clarissa Dean, 22, a graduate of Central High, noted that it was the song of strong, southern soul that principal Kiner’s sister, Paula Hollins, sung that got her tears flowing. She wrote: “Memphis is all the way on the map now y’all!”

Timothy Payne, a senior at Arkansas Pine Bluff, pointed out the recognition the president made of the families: cousins, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. “I’m sure just that mention of them made them feel great,” he said.

I agreed.

It was an emotional event for me – as I feel pretty stagnant in my life – to witness another thing I should’ve done.

“This shows, that no matter what your circumstances are, with determination, empathy, and discipline, you can succeed.”

Those words from my president meant way more than perhaps most could fathom. I will definitely put them to use.

(Karanja Ade Mosi Ajanaku, the Tri-State Defender’s first iTeen reporter, is a periodic contributor to the newspaper.)

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