SLIDE SHOW

Life Paths: Meet the Men from the Episode

By Tamika Thompson

A high school dropout who became a writer. A chief probation officer who was once on probation as a youth in the very system that he oversees. A university professor. A youth offender in the juvenile justice system. Tavis talks to Black men whose life paths, for good or bad, have taken them in varying directions. Below, meet the men from the episode, and learn more about their stories.

  • Michele

    I can’t wait to see this episode! The education of our young people is of critical importance to the African-American community specifically and to the nation in general.

  • nealbrooks1@mac.com

    Thank you.

  • JaBonn

    I can not wait for this program to air, i can totally relate to it all & their situation in Life. I have been there & done it myself, but in order to show people who i really am, i had to lose all the so-called friends & move far away in order to make a good Life for myself. Yeah i have came into other who i thought was friends, but i have made the same mistakes over & over, until i had a major “Wake Up” call & i now work with the Homeless Citizens of Memphis,Tn & I also work with People living with the HIV (AIDS) Virus, People who have seen my work or have heard of me in their community, they have reached out to me many of times for support. This is who i am, a great man with passion to help others, stop teens from making the same mistakes that i did in my Life, It’s Called Think B4 U Act. However i could go on & on about my Life, but i just wanted to say Thank U For allowing me to share these thoughts. We need more people to take a stand in our community, we have some very intelligent Sisters & Brothers, who are in the Jail System, because they felt that no one didn’t care . But in the past i have let people & certain situations get me down, but just walking in the Life of things, I turn all the negativity into positive actions, to help anyone. I now display my talent so all can see who i am, The man i was raised to be, not a bad person. So Thank You very much for letting me share part of my Life with You & whomsoever. JaBonn Bond Of Memphis,Tn

  • Anitra

    I’m anticipating the airing of this program. I have witnessed the struggle of my son to graduate from high school. Now, he is in college and he is still struggling. I see so many young Black men on the college campus debating whether college is worth it. I always ask them, what do they think the alternative would be? They always say the same thing-get a job. I explain that millions of people are out of work, it’s not that easy. I’m looking forward to hear these men’s perspective. I am assured that it will be another heart-wrenching program done well.

  • Cheryl

    Now this is what we need to be watching instead of some of these reality shows. Thanks Tavis for this project I will be taping each episode. Bless you!

  • Clay Marshall Smalley Jr

    Thank you brother Tavis for continuing to empower our youth, and especially African American adolescents who are at risk in todays’ troubled society. Continue achieving and enlighting the world with your vision.

  • Deborah J. Steele

    Greetings: To My Dearest Tavis,

    Once again, “Thank you” for allowing God to use you, the way he does, and to bring such a “heart warming” subject matter to America’s attention! …

    I truly hope, after reviewing this presentation that, this will truly open the (eyes, ears & hearts) of “many” of our current Black Leaders (everywhere), and will “inspire” them to continue to (“extend themselves”) even more, into the lives of our (young black men), who’s fathers that, may be (absent) from their lives; which, will later in the (future), give them a “strong sense of hope & encouragement” that, will enable them to become: (confident & assured) individuals, to know that, they too, can become all of what they, were meant to be! … (smile) …

    Again, I’m looking so forward, to watching this program! … And I will also, be sure to submit my comment views as well! …

    “Blessings Always”, Your Watchful & Listening Angel in Atlanta,
    (Ms. Deborah J. Steele – 9/10/11)

  • Audra

    I am eager to watch this program. I am a teacher in a predominantly African -American school. Most of my students (male and female) come to me reading at least two or three grade levels behind. Sometimes I feel like all I am doing is preparing them for a state test and not for life. I have two boys of my own and when I look at my male students, I think about them. It makes me want to do everything I can to help them succeed.

  • DeAnna

    As a HS principal of an alternative ed program, it is exciting to see the work that is being done to learn more about why students are disengaging and to be honest about when this starts…elementary school for some with a comment from a teacher who might just have been having a bad day. One of the men featured indicated that a turning point was a 4th grade teacher who told him he would never amount to anything. Our words are like nails in a fence…even when we take them back there is still a hole that needs patching. Please be careful and take time outs for yourself when you feel your buttons being pushed! I’m looking forward to this episode and may even share it in PD with our teachers. Thanks, again, for doing this tremendous work!

  • Robert Jackson

    Looking forward to watching this program. I work with black and latino males across the country teaching them to be resilient. I had to overcome many obstacles to get to where I’m at today, but I’m here. Praying for your success.

  • mr d

    very special, and informative session, outstanding inspiration, for all

  • Bronwyn

    One of these young men was a very dear student of mine in first and third grade. Is there any way to get in contact with him?

  • Talib Muhammad

    This was a great show. Captivating and real. Insightful and inspiring. Tavis gave us glimpses of hope that our children can be saved from the perils of American culture. I live in Chicago where Urban Prep is located and am very familiar with their work and development of black males. My son was a student in Dr. Tatum’s class this summer and was present in this episode as well(sitting next to Tavis while others read manuscripts). Dr. Tatum engaged the boys in literacy and writing and gave them a voice with their projects. The path is long but we can not give up on our boys development. Thank you for the vision brother. Keep up the good work.

  • CB Wilson III

    I watch the progam last night living in a rural area in Louisiana as i looked out my front door and saw all my young black brother walking up and down the street so misguided. i try my best to talk with the young brothers.

  • Alfred

    Tavis……Thank you for putting this knowledge on the airwaves for all to understand what we are up against. It’s truly an eye opener for me. How can I purcahse a DVD copy of the documentary?

  • Tamika Thompson

    Thank you for your inquiry, Alfred. You can purchase the “Too Important to Fail” DVD here, at shopPBS.org – http://www.shoppbs.org/family/index.jsp?categoryId=10896028.

    ~”Tavis Smiley” staff

  • carol durante

    I will definitely be tuned in!

  • David

    Excellent report! Could have given more emphasis to the obvious distraction from the classroom: the easy stereotypes of success for black men and boys– basketball player, rap artist, even drug dealer — set up by white society as a defense against a class of people they inherently fear and would like to keep far apart from their daily lives. Whites have made a convenient deal:: “If we agree to toss big money to a few hundred athletes and entertainers, can we then benignly ignore the millions of others?” And too many in the black community have signed on to that deal! Most sadly, even the black male educator role models featured in this report — like black male lawyers, doctors, etc. — have likely at times found themselves questioning their own success as they face, both openly from fellow blacks and instilled from from within, “Too bad you couldn’t make it in basketball!”

  • ALECIA WLKINSON

    I’VE RAISED THREE SONS TWO WENT TO PRISON,ONE STATE AND THE OTHER FEDERAL .LIVE IN LOUISIANA,WISH I HAD MOVED MY SONS FOR MANY YEARS.THIS IS A OPPRESS STATE THAT LIVE TO KEEP THE KIDS DOWN.THE SYSTEM IS DESIGN TO KEEP A BLACK BOYS BROKE BEFORE THEY BECOME MEN.TO TRY AND DESTROY THEM BEFORE THEY,BECOME MEN BECAUSE THEY ARE BORN WITH TALENTS.NEED GOOD PARENTING TO BRING IT OUT OF THEM.MY SONS ARE CONVICTED FELON,CAN’T FIND A JOB HERE TO HELP THEM.WISH YOU COULD HELP OUR YOUNG MEN HERE.MOTHER IN NEED EVERYWHERE! ALECIA

  • Karen E. Dabney

    Enjoyed the program and reading all of the comments. Now, we must all get to work!

  • Lv72696

    As a principal at a predominantly black school, I have seen first hand the effect of a teacher’s words on a child. And even more shocking to me is the fact that it comes from black teachers, I myself am a minority and the first generation in my family to go to college . I know the importance of letting these young men know that they can succeed, schools should be a safe place, where they can spread their wings and become better. Unfortunately, many times everyone blames the environment, and forgets that iwe can control what they are given at our schools. I always enter my building with a positive attitue, and an open door, I treat these young men the way I want mine to be treated. It is hard to sit back and watch adults destroy the hopes and dreams of our future. My staff will be watching this episode on the next professional day in our district. I think it’s time to show these wonderful children that no matter where you come from, you can be successful and hopefully a role model later on for other children.

Last modified: March 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm
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