On the same day last week that police announced the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in the shooting death of a 16-year-old, 10 other minority teens were being recognized for academic achievement.
The 14-year-old and the 16-year-old were all over the news.
But unless you happened to be in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library that evening, you probably never heard about the 10 winners of the Romeo Doyle Muhammad Scholarship.
You will now. That was the intent of Eva M. Doyle, retired Buffalo Public Schools teacher and lifelong educator.
“To let the community and the city know that we have outstanding young people and put them on a pedestal, like we do the athletes,” said Doyle, who uses donations and her own money to recognize such teens.
She wants people to know Jamerdon Dean, a City Honors graduate attending Wake Forest University on multiple scholarships to become a regenerative medicine scientist; Ibrahim El-Amiin, a Math, Science and Technology Preparatory School honor roll graduate who will pursue an engineering degree at Morehouse College; and Malik Stubbs, a McKinley High senior class vice president on his way to Canisius College en route to becoming “the second African-American mayor of the City of Buffalo.” He already looks the part in his three-piece suit.
In fact, all the young men wore jackets and/or ties – belying the stereotypes. And the fact that five of the 10 – chosen on factors such as grades and essays – are black males is noteworthy. “I wanted to spotlight our black males. They’re achievers. They’re out there – and we don’t see them,” Doyle said.
We don’t see young men such as Lovell Smith, a McKinley grad who’s going to SUNY Buffalo State to become an electrician; Kahlil Humprey, a Sweet Home High grad who’ll study exercise science at Utica College; or Gamil Morehead, a Hutch-Tech grad on his way to Fredonia State and a music career.
Doyle also noted that eight of the 10 graduated from city schools, a much-maligned system whose superintendent, Pamela Brown, delayed an out-of-town trip to come and laud the winners for modeling the “world-class education” she wants for all students.
The winners also had relatives on hand, supplying the family support essential for such achievement. It helped Amber Quinney graduate from Hutch-Tech en route to Howard University and a law career; and helped Rudra Mani Khanal journey from a Nepal refugee camp to Burgard High to Canisius College to pursue a career as a doctor. It helped Fadi Suboh graduate from City Honors en route to Canisius and an engineering career; and Juneteenth Festival queen Deja Triplette, a graduate of Charter School for Applied Technologies headed to D’Youville College and a health care career.
The five $250 scholarships and five $100 incentive awards – all named for Doyle’s late husband – may not be a lot in the face of today’s outrageous college costs. But they are priceless in terms of the message such community recognition sends to young people.
But the more important message is the one it sends the rest of us. Maybe one day, when we see a black teen in a hoodie, we’ll automatically think “scholar” instead of “criminal.”
Maybe, if the message sinks in, this society will recover from the psychosocial defect that cost Trayvon Martin his life.