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Friday, August 29, 2014

How We Can Honor Michael Brown in a Meaningful, Constructive Way

By Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson
Founder and Executive Director, Be Someone Inc.

Michael Brown

Nationwide — My heart aches for the people of Ferguson, MO and I cry when I think of the young life of Michael Brown taken away from us prematurely. What could Michael have been? What force could he have been for good if only he had chosen to walk a different path?

What will the facts show in this case? I am not here to debate them other than to say let justice take its course. Let all the facts come out and let’s pledge to do what we can – individually and collectively – to make sure there are not more sad stories like this ahead.

In my Be Someone program, I teach that there is a consequence for every action. I teach that we have the power to choose the actions we take. Without assigning guilt, would Michael be with us today if he had chosen another way of dealing with the police officer? Instead of confrontation I teach peaceful resolution. Instead of disrespect, I teach respect for self and fellow human beings who share our lives.

I have been on both sides of the street on this issue. I was Michael Brown at one time in my young life. I was an inner city kid without much hope. Day to day was my future. Risk was a huge part of my life until a white teacher turned me around by teaching me the game of chess. He taught me in no uncertain terms there is a consequence for every action. A wrong move on the chess board, you lose the game. A wrong move on the street, you lose your life and a chance to be somebody, a chance to be a contributor.

Later, I became an Alabama State Trooper. I know what it is like to be a cop. It is not easy but I was reminded almost every day of young people who were making the wrong choices. I saw ruined lives where there could have been success. I knew there was more important work for me.

I founded Be Someone Inc. Just as my teacher taught me, I’m teaching young people – many of them at risk inner city children just as I was – that they have choices and they can achieve success, prosperity and happiness if they think and walk the path that will lead them to the mountain top not to the dark valley floor of no return.

When events grip our nation as they have in Ferguson they cause me to look inside. What more can I do? What can I do to honor the lost life of Michael Brown? The answer shouts at me… Work harder! Touch more lives! Use my talents and experience to give young people the tools for success! Teach them Peace over violence, brains before bullets, think it our don’t shoot it out, heads up, pants up, grades up and never give up!

I love this country with my whole heart. I believe it truly is still the land of freedom and opportunity. We have come so far but for many of our brothers and sister – of all races – every day is a challenge and there is despair. Turn on the news tonight wherever you live. You will see reports of more young African-American males in trouble. It must stop!

I’m using my chess board every day to reach young people. Although their words and actions may say one thing, their eyes tell me another story: I want intervention in my life! I want to be good! I want to succeed! I want to be somebody! I want to make the right choices! Show me how! Please!

Orrin Hudson is the founder and Executive Director of Be Someone Inc. a non-profit organization in Stone Mountain, GA. devoted to teaching life lessons by using the game of chess. To learn more about Orrin and his award-winning program, visit www.besomeone.org

Be Someone, Inc.

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