Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Black teen inspires with speech on crisis of youth

Asked to write a speech about a lack of academic achievement among African-American children, Faith Chennault Woodard presented a sobering assessment that likened school to the life-taking games of gladiators.

"Instead of an institution of learning, school has become like an ancient Roman arena where only the strong survive," Faith said. "A place where students wear rebellion and violence as a badge of honor in establishing respect as a thug."

Hyperbole? Perhaps, but Faith used her words to describe the trend of education being devalued and smart kids being teased.

The 14-year-old eighth-grader at Rogers Middle School in Riverview presented her thoughts at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs' annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Monday.

The winner of the group's youth oratorical contest, Faith got a standing ovation for dissecting the problem. She quoted Robert F. Kennedy, Aristotle and Maya Angelou in explaining the contrasts between what she called today's misguided attitudes and yesterday's wholesome perspectives.

She faulted "rebellion" for the destructive attitudes and cited today's pop culture as a contributing factor.

"With the advancement of technology, hip-hop, rap music and TV have paved the way for the African-American youth to pick up thuggery as a way of life," Faith said. "Rebellion is idolized, crime is glorified and education is criticized."

She concluded by challenging parents to restore morality and faith in the home, and said the best lessons come from the "riches of our past."

"Long ago, Rosa Parks sat so that one man, Martin Luther King Jr., could walk," Faith said. "Martin Luther King walked so that in 2008, Barack Obama could run. Barack Obama ran so that today, we can now fly. It's time to realize that change has come to America. ...

"It's time to realize that increasing academics begins inside. Change begins with you."

The audience of more than 800 roared with approval.

If the girl sounded more like a Baptist minister and less like a child who stars in basketball and track and is on the student council, there's a reason. She's the daughter of Lora and Sterlin Woodard, who is a minister at Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Tampa.

She also has an apparent genetic advantage. Last year, her cousin Ashley Favors won the oratorical contest.

Black teen inspires with speech on crisis of youth 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Photo gallery: Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    News

    Taylor Payne, 24, and Tom Fornarola, 23, are two of the 23 first-year umpires scattered around the bottom rungs of minor-league baseball this summer. They never met until they were assigned together but quickly developed a strong rapport. Like the players themselves, the two umpires have dreams of reaching the major …

  5. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.