Educating the youth is a priority for the Honorable Paul Hardison — a priority that he stressed to the hundreds in attendance at the annual Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday night.
In its 16th year, the Sampson County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) invited Hardison, who gave a captivating message that left a lasting impression on the youth during last year’s banquet, to speak about this year’s theme, “Ensuring Justice Through Educating Our Youth.”
As a parent to six children, Hardison has always instilled in his own children the importance of being educated.
“I think it’s important that we ensure that opportunities that have been afforded to the African Americans are being utilized,” Hardison shared with a crowd said to be four or five times larger than the crowd that gathered 16 years ago for the first banquet.
During Saturday night’s dinner, Hardison made his way around the Agri-Exposition Center, shaking hands and greeting the youth who were in attendance at the banquet. It was during this time that Hardison said he stressed to the young people that they should make sure they were on the right path in life.
“Our youth are looking for heroes,” Hardison shared. “Heroes are found in ordinary people. Everybody can be a role model.”
Even the youth, Hardison said, are heroes to someone.
“Those kids who are in first and second grade are looking up to you,” Hardison added. “What you wear won’t get you an education.”
While seated in the judge’s position, Hardison said he has encountered many youth who have chosen to follow the popular path, rather than the successful path.
“Our youth are looking at the wrong people to be their role model,” the speaker said.
Living in a microwave generation, Hardison said the youth of today expect to get what they want instantly. Life, he added, doesn’t happen that way.
“Young people, you need to stop the blame and step up your game,” Hardison shared.
With a message of encouragement, Hardison reminded the youth that while they enjoy spending time of Facebook, You Tube, Snapchat and Twitter, they need to be careful about what they are posting or sending via text messages.
“You need to educate yourself,” Hardison said.
Like an eagle flying high above his nest, Hardison encouraged the youth to fly high and strive for the best in life.
“Our thoughts become our actions,” he added. “Your attitude can determine your altitude. Too many of our kids are not interested in education, rather they are more interested in rapping a lyric.”
Hardison challenged the kids, parents and teachers to step up and take a stand for what is right.
“Our youth are at a stage when they are blossoming and they are getting in trouble,” Hardison added. “It’s time for us to take a stand.”
Following Hardison’s speech, Rep. Larry Bell was awarded the Community Service Award and Marcus Bass was awarded with the Leadership Award.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.