Director of PTE, Steven Williams, April Holliverse, Dr. Ola Washington, Charmaine Jefferson, Principal George Bartleson, Beth Payne, Jamal Speakes, 2nd row: Rashad McCant (NBA), Marg Briggs, Jensen Atwood, Lawyer Lisa Boykin, Henry Simmons, Agent Michael Moore.
Special to the Sentinel
Television star Henry Simmons lead a panel of stars & professionals in an assembly at Dorsey High School called Ã¬Peace Through Education.Ã® Â Others who came to uplift and encourage the students included actress/comedienne Beth Payne (Ã¬ BET Sunday BestÃ®), actor/singer Jensen Atwood (NoahÃs Arc) , Charmaine Jefferson (Executive Director of the California African American Museum), Hollywood entertainment lawyer Lisa Boykin (Tyra Banks, George Lopez, Model Latina). Â Each panelist encouraged the students to stay focus, taking their education seriously and to take positive steps to getting a higher education despite the obstacles they face from peers and family.
Henry Simmons for the first time gave a riveting description of the emotional pains of being physically abuse by his father, and challenged those who are dealing with any category of abuse to put their faith in God and get help.
Beth Payne discussed the importance of being multi-lingual as she spoke in Spanish and English.
Ms. Jefferson, a former Dorsey student and one-time professional dancer, offered the youth summer jobs through the city of Los Angeles, she told the young men that there were no good jobs available where they will pay you to walk around with your pants sagging and your underwear showing.
Jensen Atwood, let everyone know that he was a homeboy from south central who was determine to be more than his peers and get an education.
Ms. Boykin, who is responsible for shows like Lopez Tonight, Judge Judy and Model Latina, shared with the audience how she overcame personal obstacles and achieved to be one of the best entertainment lawyers in the country.
Sports Agent Michael Moore invited his client, NBA player Rashad McCant, who encouraged the youth to be more than their predecessors, that they are the future of America.
Dr. Ola Washington shared with DorseyÃs students body how she use to pick cotton as a child and now stands before them with a P.H.D., she insisted that they read a book every day.
Photographer/publicist Steven Williams, with the help of film publicist Roz Stevenson organized the event. Williams shared his personal journey from the walls of prison to the halls of UCLA where he will graduate in June.
All of the celebrities spoke with passion, immense integrity and concern about trusting in God and the need of taking education seriously. Â They shared their personal testimonies about the challenges they faced as teenagers and how they overcame the complexities of race, gender and socioeconomic stratification to become successful adults.
DorseyÃs principal, George Bartleson shared with the panel his immediate concern to have 95% of the students participate in the State of CaliforniaÃs standardize mandatory testing, which will be conducted at Dorsey during the month of Â May.
According to the United States dept. of Education, the national dropout rate among minorities is greater than fifty percent. The Steven Williams Foundation felt the need to address this critical issue by convening a panel of community safe holders, opinion leaders and representatives of the entertainment industry.
Peace through Education was a positive step towards encouraging our youth to stay in school and not give up on their goals.