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The Black Cornerempty posted on: 5.02
Mike Ramey Mike Ramey
Graduation Day 2
by Mike Ramey
The Manhoodline
some text

We are gathered here today as a means of celebration--not condemnation.

To you, my young brothers; those in High School and College who have beaten the odds and are about to be awarded your diplomas and degrees, I--as your Commencement Day speaker of the Internet realm--gather with you to toast your achievement. Perhaps the day will come when I can be in front of a graduating class to do this speech in person. But, I am content for now to present it in this format, at this time.

GraduationAs you prepare to move forward. As you prepare to move to that next level of life or education preparation, I just have a few words of wisdom to share on this --your Graduation Day. Some of my words you may have heard before. They may have been uttered--at one time or another--by your parents, your teachers, or your professors.

Nevertheless, they are still just as relevant.

And, as I gaze out to the sea of cap-and-gown clad young men before me, I'd just like to give you one thought to get you ready as you cross over into the adult ranks of the brotherhood. Success is still an easy to reach goal; provided you are willing--and determined--to go Above and Beyond.

First, let me say that my words are aimed at the young men in the house. If there are any young women in the matriculating crowd who understand and heed my words, then they will reap a blessing.

However, my young brothers; this Word is for Y-O-U. In order to move ahead in life, YOU must be willing to rise above the tide of mediocrity which has surrounded our modern day society. You must be willing to head for the higher road. You must be willing to operate on a higher level. You must be willing to not only set goals; you must be willing to reach for them, with every ounce of moral, emotional, mental and spiritual fiber that you can muster.

Yes, I've read the same newspapers you have read. Yes, I've watched many of the same television newscasts that you have seen. About how 'bad' the economy is. About how many young men who have come before you have fallen to the 'temptations' and the 'Siren's Songs' of promiscuity, crime, and moral and ethical compromise. About how 'young Black men' need 'special' attention, programs and 'rites of passage' to 'be' successful.

With that small piece of paper in your hand; that diploma or degree; you have proven the 'experts' and the 'multiculturalists' WRONG!

There is STILL room for the young man who is willing to march onto the field of adulthood and tell life to 'Just Bring It!', regardless of his skin color. THIS young man is prepared--but not arrogant. THIS young man is not afraid to bend his knee in prayer, nor is not afraid to seek and to take the advice of those men who have gone before him. THIS young man is--in other words--willing to push himself, drag himself, or endure the hardships to do one single, glorious thing: To do whatever is necessary to declare to those around him that he is a Man of Character.

In other words, my young brother; by your being here today, you have proven that you are willing to rise Above the attempts to label you as 'just a number', and Beyond the realm of being more than 'Breath and Britches'.

My young brother, you must be determined to go beyond the enemies of our modern culture. Oh yes, you are GOING to have enemies--make no mistake about it! Every man has enemies. Some visible and some not. Let me just highlight a few in the short time I have with you...

*If you determine to continue your education, you are going to have to contend with the enemies of doubt, discouragement, and compromise--among others. They will seek to rob you of your vision. They will seek to block your progress towards your goal. They will seek to leave you bruised, naked, and bleeding alongside the roadway of life.

*If you determine to enter a profession, you are going to have to contend with the enemies of office politics, back room deals, and counter top compromise. They will seek to steal your ideas, whittle away your ambition, and steal your drive. Determine within your heart to keep your weights honest, your conversation upright, and your involvement in cliques and power movements minimal. Try to be friendly toward everyone; but remember that not everyone will view your friendship as a strength--but as a weakness.

Not every leader is visible. In a lot of cases, many true leaders of commerce, industry, or even education are those dedicated and determined men who labor tirelessly behind the scenes for the love of their profession, and their desire to help others of lesser or greater prominence; be the men that they CAN be, rather than opting for a pale imitation of manhood generated by Hollywood and the Mainstream Press.

My young brothers, going Above and Beyond is still needed out here in modern day society. The young man who grasps that concept will not only achieve; he will exceed and be worthy to be called a Man of Character.

If I may get biblical for a moment--and I know it's not 'PC' to do this in our 'enlightened age', but I do so anyway--on his deathbed, King David told his son Solomon to BE a Man. The Apostle Paul urged Timothy and Titus to BE Men of Character. Jesus Christ aimed His love, leadership, and patience primarily at Men. It is in the Bible, and it is not unlisted. Take the time--and the courage--to check it out for yourself! Don't let others 'choose' your path for you. Not only will you be miserable with the selection; you will cease to continue as the original you are, and end up a cheap copy of someone else's 'view' of whom you should be.

What is Character?
Well, more than one man has stated: "Character is who you are when no one else is watching." I came up with my own definition of Character: "Character is that which is you are, brewed in victory; but made public in defeat!"

Everyone does love a winner...but, what happens when the spotlight goes out? Are you STILL a loving person when those around you want your head on a silver platter? Are you STILL generous when your pockets are flat and your bank account is resting on zero? Are you STILL honest when others around you are getting things done by cutting corners and taking shortcuts? Are you STILL moral when you have one woman whom you are dating, and EACH one of her girlfriends wants to 'slip off out the back' and coos, sweetly: "Oh, SHE will never know...?"

Love. Honesty. Loyalty. Trust. You can't get those out of a comic book or off a Rap Video. Those--and other character traits--you have to work on, day in and day out. The worst group of words in the world to hear come from someone is the following: "I can't trust you anymore." Be a Man of Character, and you will never hear those words uttered in your direction.

As I bring my Commencement Address to a close, let me leave you with the following illustration. Years ago there was a young Black man by the name of Elijah McCoy, who was an inventor. This young brother was absolutely brilliant when it came to making and designing items for Trains (a mode of transportation from a bygone era).

As usual, there were those other inventors in the marketplace at that time that would steal some of McCoy's work, add a little something to them, and try to pass them off as quality goods. It got so bad that those who sought out McCoy's innovations would ask anyone who tried to sell them something new: "Is this--the REAL McCoy?"

Be a Man willing to practice and live on the Above and Beyond level of life, and no one will be asking you if you are for real. They won't have to second guess your efforts and achievements. YOU WILL be the 'REAL McCoy'.

An original will always outlast a copy.

A graduate will out earn and outlast those who 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' done something with their lives. No, it doesn't mean that you are better than everyone else; being a graduate means that you had more discipline, focus, and determination than everyone else. It simply means...YOU were willing to go Above and Beyond the talk and accomplish your mission, getting that diploma or degree.

God bless you--as you go forth to be successful.

Mike Ramey is the author of: "The Manhood Line", a monthly, syndicated column written for men from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. To correspond, drop email to The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used on by permission. ©Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications, 2002

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