| Wednesday, May 14, 2008
| Sometimes, the future looks bright
|The stories I've read and heard anecdotally about young, eager college students getting the cold water of racism thrown over their heads in West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania as they campaigned for Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton's race baiting comments about "hard working white Americans," plus WV's 2 in 10 who "voted white" yesterday, can really get you feeling down about the state of race relations in this country. But sometimes, a story turns your frown around. Like the one about the white valedictorian of Morehouse College:
From his first day at Morehouse College — the country's only institution of higher learning dedicated to the education of black men — Joshua Packwood has been a standout.
His popularity got him elected dorm president as a freshman. His looks and physique made him a fashion-show favorite. His intellect made him a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His work ethic landed him a job at the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York City.
But it's his skin that has made all of this an anomaly. This month, Packwood is set to take the stage and address his classmates as the first white valedictorian in Morehouse's 141-year history.
The 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., will graduate Sunday with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in economics.
He could have gone elsewhere, to a school like Columbia, Stanford or Yale, but his four-year journey through Morehouse has taught him a few things that they could not, and he makes it clear that he has no regrets.
"I've been forced to see the world in a different perspective, that I don't think I could've gotten anywhere else," he said. "None of the Ivies, no matter how large their enrollment is, no matter how many Nobel laureates they have on their faculty ... none of them could've provided me with the perspective I have now."
When Packwood applied to Morehouse, he had frequent conversations with George Gray, an alumnus who was a recruiter at the school. Gray was impressed by Packwood's credentials and spent months trying to talk the sought-after senior into choosing Morehouse over other elite schools.
"He had outstanding numbers," said Gray, now director of admissions at historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. "He was the kind of kid we were looking for to be a presidential scholar."
After several conversations, Packwood began to suspect that Gray had no idea that he was white. His suspicions were confirmed when one of Gray's calls caught Packwood in the middle of track practice.
"Don't let the white kids walk you down," Gray quipped.
"Wait," Packwood re-sponded. "You know I'm white, right?"
Silence. Uneasy laughter. Confirmation.
"The challenge was to get the best student that we could, and Josh definitely fit that," Gray said.
And for Packwood, knowing that he had been picked on his merits, and not as a token white recruit, made the difference. ...
Yes we can.
And he's cute, too!
Packwood was on the Tom Joyner Morning Show this morning and was very impressive. He'll do well at Goldman Sachs, and in life. Way to go, Brother Josh. And don't let the haters (check the comments in this story
) walk you down.
Labels: Morehouse, race in America
|posted by JReid @ 9:49 AM