No. 989



To begin our visit today, I would like to make a statement and then tell why I believe it is so important. Here is the statement, “We Must Improve Race Relations in America.” There is no good reason why this is not true, and what a much better nation we will have when this comes to pass. In this respect, I believe I have some ideas that can make a difference. As a basic foundation for my premise, I would like to tell you about a friend I have here in my community -- I won’t share his name for obvious reasons.
When it comes to spiritual matters, this friend and I disagree completely. He believes in God but he does not accept Jesus as the Son of God. I do. Sometime back, in a group setting, I made this comment. Calling this friend’s name, I said, “We disagree completely but it is a sign of maturity when you can disagree with someone and still be friends.” Now a more pointed question: Can you disagree with someone and still be friends? If you can, at least in this respect, you show evidence that you are a mature person.
Certainly in the area of race relations, we need more people like you. At this point I would like to tell you about four African-American friends who are very special to me. In fact, in each case when we greet each other, it is with a hug.
My four friends are Dr. Charlotte Green, Lawson Pilgrim, Dr. Karen Lasker, and Sheila Whitmore. Dr. Green is the director of the Gifted & Talented Programs for the Conway School District; Lawson is a former two-time All-American basketball player for Hendrix College and is now a top-notch motivational speaker; Dr. Lasker is the principal of the Bob Courtway Middle School; and Sheila Whitmore works for Counseling Associates and serves on the Conway City Council.
Sometime back I asked myself the question, “Why are they so special?” I concluded that there are many reasons, but there are at least two common denominators that stand out. First is the fact they were all reared in two-parent homes. Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. When things are going wrong in a child’s life, I don’t fault the child. It is always adults who are failing them. Certainly many people succeed coming from a single-parent home, but it is much harder.
The second common denominator is education. In each case, these African-American friends have a great deal of quality education, and their parents thought it very important for them to have it when they were growing up.
Now, what I am going to say next may appear too simple, but if we want to improve race relations in our country we must improve education, and that starts with literacy. It is a proven fact that African-American children in our nation have fewer books in the home to read than their fellow white students.
This is exactly why more and more people are coming to realize the value of our “Bookcase for Every Child” project. Again, it is very simple -- we target the kids who don’t have books in the home to read and help them. These are the kids that we read about and hear about on the television news later in life becoming involved in illegal drugs, crime, welfare, fraud, and teen pregnancy. Sadly, some go to prison or die a premature death.
We are making progress here in our state and three other states in regards to literacy, as we have now built and given more than 1,100 bookcases and a starter set of books. If you would like to know more, visit our website: or contact me at
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)