The event was the brainchild of Principal Blain Watson, and Pastor Rafer Owens (who is also a Deputy Sheriff). Blain who is relatively new to Compton was inspired by the “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative” started under President Obama’s administration, which he has had an opportunity to be involved in at another school district.
And Pastor Owens was responsible for getting most of the men there, mostly from his church “Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church" and others through his connection with men in and around the community. It was a diverse group of men from all races, careers, ages, and backgrounds.
The morning started with the young men entering the gym with the men forming a human tunnel (like you would see during a professional championship basketball game), and music being played, while a young rapper pumped up the crowd.
While the men were there to help teach students how to tie a tie, a bigger purpose was to mentor to the young men, and share some “life points” with them. The students and men were given one of 9 different colors of wrist bands, so that they could match up with a mentor of like color. And that’s where the magic happened.
The scene of hundreds of students and mentors interacting tying ties was incredible. For students who already knew how to tie a tie, they were asked to help a classmate tie their tie. However, as a participant myself, the powerful part of the event was being able to engage with the students and share some points on how to overcome obstacles in life and prepare for their future.
After the tie tying and sharing, students and mentors were asked to sit in the bleachers with their mentors. Then Principal Watson used microphones on both sides of the gym so that students, and mentors could share their experience, and what they learned from the exercise.
One student said that while he learned the foundation of how to tie a tie, the benefit he most appreciated was learning from a man who was able to share his wisdom and provide some pointers on how to prepare for life ahead.
Another young man shared that what he learned was that while many young men want the designer clothing, shoes, etc., learning how to tie a tie will be more valuable in the future, because it will allow him to be competitive when applying for a job interview.
Another student shared that he wants to learn how to tie a tie, because he will need to know how to do it when it’s time for him to get married. And there were other students who shared what they learned, and how the event impacted them. All in all, students were appreciative of the many men who came out to the school to help them be successful in school, and in life.
A few of the men mentors spoke, sharing what the experience meant to them. One said that he met some very bright young men, who have dreams of being something special when they graduate from high school, another said that he is a graduate of the school district, and was honored to be able to give back to his community, and this writer said that the event filled him with so much emotion, that it brought me to tears, to see the love, and devotion displayed by the men of the community.
I introduced two young men that I worked with, Saul an 11th grader who wanted to be a lawyer, and Andre a 9th grader who was not sure what he wanted to do when he finished high school, but said he wanted to be successful. I like all the other men who participated in the event gave the student’s our contact information, so that they would keep in touch, and use the human resources available to them in the community, to help them with their pursuit of success.
Congratulations to Principal Watson, his staff, Pastor Owens, and the many men of Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church, and the community for showing up and helping the young men to navigate through life. And I would be remiss not to mention the women who supported the event as well.
But most of all I want to thank all the young men of Dominguez High School, who came to the event with open minds, and listened to the older generation (and not so old) speak truth to them, and how to navigate through this thing we call life.
Congratulations! Go Dons!!