“Carter G. Woodson ... got a doctorate from Harvard University and he was also a teacher, so for him to have been born a slave and the son of slaves, it showed me there is no limit to what you can do and how far you can go,” eighth-grade student and speaker Peyton Brown said to The Daily Tribune News.
Brown said she did not expect to be asked to speak about some of the key African-American figures in history, originally asking her teacher, Laura Huth, why the nation recognizes Black History Month.
“Like a good teacher, I told her to look it up,” Huth said.
Motivational speaker Glenn Hollingsworth shared his story with the crowd, keeping students engaged by incorporating humor, dancing and even holding a “beat box” competition with a student, which consisted of the duo using a microphone to emulate the common sounds associated with hip-hop and rap music.
According to his biography on www.glenhollingsworth.com, “Staying goal oriented and self-driven, Glenn graduated from high school with a 3.0 GPA. Upon graduating from high school, he attended Bauder College, where he graduated with a 3.6 GPA and perfect attendance. Not long after graduating, he found himself depressed, frustrated and uninspired. His life was headed in a direction that was not matching up with the image he had of himself. Looking at a list of goals he wrote when he was 14, he realized that he fulfilled most of his goals, except inspiring others as a motivational speaker.”
Hollingsworth’s message was based around the “Three P’s,” which are practice, passion and purpose. He spoke about prominent African-Americans from the 20th and 21st century who have applied practice, passion and purpose to their lives, citing, for example, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama.
“History is in the making. Every day that you live is your chance to make history and potentially every day can change that [history],” Hollingsworth said. “You can’t go back to yesterday, you can’t go back to weeks before that ... so this is your opportunity to start making history now.”
While attempting to connect with students on the topic of finding a career and making goals in life, he brought up a commonly experienced scenario — shopping for breakfast cereal.
“When you’re deciding what you want to do and what is your passion, you have to ask yourself, ‘what is your favorite thing to do?’” Hollingsworth said. “And just the way you have to pick out your favorite cereal, the way you need to figure out what your favorite thing is by trying different activities.”
Hollingsworth reminded students to take responsibility for their own actions, but said it’s important to be concerned with the well-being of others. He said this could be as simple as helping a student with a math problem or donating an old pair of sneakers to someone less fortunate.
“The smallest thing you can do is make a difference in another person’s life,” Hollingsworth said.