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Chronicles of a Philly Ole Head; On a Mission to Serve

Dear friends of COSEBOC,

I have this blog finds you well and keeping your eyes on the mission prize. I recently returned from a wonderful vacation on the sunny isle of St. Maarten. It was a remarkable trip that provided me with a 10 day respite from the daily fray. It allowed me the gift of time to reflect, muse, imagine and wonder.

Though I enjoyed the beauty of the island, the food, weather and beautiful beaches, I was also able to consider all of the opportunities, joys, lows, travails and victories achieved in my nearly 50 years of service to children, youth, families and communities. The time that I had to count my blessings was truly a Gift from God. It was especially poignant given that in two weeks, if the Creator allows it, I will see my 70th year on September 1st.

At times I can’t believe it when I say to myself, Ron you will be 70 years old,  Wow!! I am what we Philly guys call an Ole Head. Growing up in Philly, I can recall many Saturdays waiting in the barbershop and listening to the Ole Heads, sharing their experiences,laughing, commiserating and freely passing on wisdom’s to those of us that they called the young boys. In fact it was an honor if an Ole Head liked you enough to share his wisdom about life and call you his young boy. Back in those days it was an informal form of mentoring Black men mentoring Black boys.

Now the patterns of life have come full circle. As an Ole Head (in Philly we say Ole instead of Old), I have had the honor of sharing any wisdom that I have accrued with many brilliant and committed young men and women who are dedicated to the Affirmative Development and education of black and brown boys and young men. For me this has been a very rewarding and significant aspect of the Movement work that I now do. But,on the other hand, I have also received a great measure of wisdom, advice and support from many of my younger  colleagues. And for that I am deeply thankful and appreciative. Because of their encouragement I have taken to social media in a way that I never anticipated.

Over the years I have learned that wisdom and knowledge comes in many different ways. The gift of age has allowed me to become a better listener, more discerning and patient when I must and demonstrably vocal when I must. In this season of my life I am focused on the mission prize that must be equitable and just opportunities for all of our children and youth and in particular for boys and young men of color. When I meet young scholars who have overcome the odds to succeed, achieve and soar I get an enormous boost of energy that fuels me anew.At this time in my life it is not about awards or selfish intent. Its about service to others.

During my lifetime I have been able to meet many of my heroes who have in some way influenced my development as a man and a leader. The first two were my parents Solomon and Delores Walker my first role models. Other people such as James Farmer, Bernard Lafayette both icons in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s touched my spirit with their courage. I met Muhammad Ali, shook his hand and had a moment of high humor at the expense of a friend who was with me at the time. My friend’s last name was Frazier and of course Ali shadowboxed around him and said , Gimme Joe Frazier.

I spent time in Mississippi in the 60’s and saw poverty afflicting black folks in an up close and personal way. And as a student at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, I was a classmate of the great Gil Scott Heron and future Black panthers John and Erika Huggins.

It is my hope to share more about my life’s story in a book that I am laboring to write. Thank you Brother David Miller for your encouragement and advice as I entire into this process. Maybe I will title the book, Chronicles of a Philly Ole Head; On a Mission to Serve. In closing, I am very thankful for the opportunity to lead the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The 10 years of its existence have been exciting, challenging and fruitful. As we wind out the final days of summer and enter into the season of school openings and new beginnings, I pray that we who are members of the movement to save our sons continues to share wisdom one to another, Ole Head to Young Heads and vice versa.The Movement needs us all.

Peace and blessings,