Beaumont Superintendent Terrence Davis stood before the tables of Black male students in the Beaumont High School library and told them that he was lucky to be in the position he is in today in education.
When Davis, who, like all of the speakers at the event, is black, was their age, barely cracked open a book, hung out with his friends and graduated from high school with a 2.01 G.P.A. He knew he had to get out of his neighborhood and he did, now overseeing 10,000 students and 800 employees in the Beaumont Unified School District.
“I’ve been given an opportunity,” Davis told the high school students. “When I wake up every morning, I’m grateful for the opportunity that’s been given to me.”
Davis was one of four guest speakers during the Black Man Cares male luncheon on Tuesday in the BHS library.
This was the second annual event, which is designed for black male students from freshman through senior year.
Principal Christina Pierce welcomed the students, who were treated to a lunch before the main program.
She wanted them to walk away with stories from role models that will inspire them to dream big dreams for their futures.
Davis showed the students five photos of successful black men who aren’t athletes or entertainers. The men included musician Miles Davis, president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Colin Powell.
Davis was trying to show the students that it’s hard to find black men of achievement.
He encouraged the young men to make new friends during high school. “Branch out. Get to know other folks. It will diversify your life,” Davis said.
Beaumont Police Officer Lyndon Peats shared his story of growing up in another country and having to learn to speak English.
He was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands before his family moved to Canada at age 8. Peats said that was a culture shock.
“No one understood a word I said,” Peats said.
He did learn to speak English and began singing in church choirs and school talent shows.
Peats, who performs the national anthem at events in Banning and Beaumont, became part of a musical group that recorded a song that was nominated for a Canadian award similar to a Grammy.
He also became part of another musical group and also sang background vocals for BabyFace.
Peats left music and joined law enforcement, becoming a member of the Pasadena Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Simi Valley Police Department, Fontana School District school police and now Beaumont Police Department.
Peats told the students to not let other peoples’ opinions influence the direction that their lives will take in the future.
“Don’t ever let the color of your skin stop you from chasing your dreams,” Peats said.
Another guest speaker was Michael Antony Pierce, an independent filmmaker and videographer.
Pierce told the students not to waste their time playing video games or hanging out with their buddies. Begin planning your future sooner than later.
Pierce said he did that as a high school student and didn’t focus on his homework or education.
He graduated high school with a 2.08 G.P.A. and then joined the Army. He also went to college but only for a quarter of the time he should have been putting in at school.
The first semester, he had a C average; second semester, it was an F; third semester was a B.
Pierce also talked about auditions and how he never gave up on his dreams. It doesn’t matter what you are passionate about – just don’t give up.
“”Get a grip on what you want and hold on tight,” Pierce said.
Michael Crumby, 17, a junior at Beaumont High School, is looking forward to being a real estate lawyer.
Michael said he became interested in real estate at age 10, enjoying communicating and arguing different points. At age 15, he watched his parents Ken and Angie buy a house.
“Growing up, my parents were always interested in housing,” he said. “Today, getting a house is hard.”
Michael said that it will take him four years for his undergraduate degree, three years to earn his real estate lawyers license and one to two years of experience in the field.
Right now, his choices for college are Chapman University, Pepperdine University and USC.
When he gets started on his career, he would like to practice real estate law in Orange County or San Diego.
At the end of the program, Major Sgt. Edward Brackens, who works with the JROTC at the high school, said it’s not uncommon to question ourselves and our goals.
“We wrestle with the idea of who we are,” said Brackens.
He told the group that they shouldn’t be affected by what others think of them and continue to pursue what makes them happy.
Staff writer Julie Farren may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.