Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Looking to those who have gone before, Jeremy Marshall hopes to inspire the men and women to whom he serves as teacher.
His parents Walter and Phyllis are his greatest role models, the 26-year-old Jacksonville resident said. “My father instilled in me a great work ethic while my mother instilled in me a passion for learning,”
And the men of Rock Hill Baptist Church – Reverend Delbert Simpson, Deacon Floyd Marshall, the late Deacon T.L. Marshall, and the late Deacon Harold Williams – “also are my role models, because since I was a boy, these gentlemen gave me the proper formation needed to develop my conscious and to make wise decisions,” he said.
As he substitute teaches at the JISD schools or serves as a bilingual and GED tutor for the Jacksonville Literacy Council, it's their lead that he follows.
While society has made great strides in the half-century since the Civil Rights era, challenges continue to present themselves in new ways.
“I feel that most people judge others by their character – such a quality, is important for developing relationships amongst people of different backgrounds,” he said.
“We must keep (Martin Luther King Jr.'s) dream alive to foster a resilient society. As our country faces economic challenges, we must ensure that youth are prepared for university or for vocational occupations,” Marshall said.
“High unemployment and economic hardships inhibit young people’s ability to finance their education and training during a period of uncertainty.”
Therefore, it is imperative that community leaders and educators uncover resources that can help young Americans to follow their dreams of an education, like encouraging them to apply for scholarships and to consider their finances before attending university, he said.
Another way to help guide them is to expose them to careers before they begin their college career or specialized training.
So, Marshall has hit upon the idea to take it straight to the heart of the future: Meeting with children and sharing with them ideas of how to prepare themselves for those challenges.
“I will be speaking with children at the Sweet Union Baptist Church about the importance of education,”
Marshall plans to encourage and share ways to keep a thirst for knowledge.
One way to do that is to tell them about men and women who faced challenges of their own, but who remained faithful to their dreams of reaching their goals, people like Nelson Mandela, who Marshall said “made the greatest contribution to black history” in modern times.
Mandela – a black South African who won a joint Nobel Peace Prize with then-President F.W. De Klerk for their efforts to dismantle their homeland's apartheid system – subsequently was elected as that country's first black president.
“Having been imprisoned for many years, he became the president of South Africa and helped to end the apartheid, a system of oppression imposed upon black South Africans,” Marshall said. “He also helped to improve the living conditions of the black community by creating education, economic and housing reforms.”