Monday, November 5, 2007

Day 2: Two Heroes Who Saved My Life


So far A Week of Positive Blogging has been going on for one day, and I have read some really moving and inspirational blogs. Most in English, and some in French and I haven't spoken any French since I was 6. I am still making the rounds to all the participating blogs, and I am learning a lot of good things about people all over the world.

So now it is Day 2 for those of use in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Now we get to posts about people who have either inspired or saved your life. There are two men in particular that come to mind when I think of this; Dr. Carl Boyd and Dr. Freddie Frazier. These are their stories.


Heroes

“The difference between a hero and a coward? There is no difference. At one time or another everyone has felt fear. It is what one person does that the other doesn’t do that makes them a hero.” [i]

Hero # 1 - Dr. Carl Boyd

When I lived in Kansas City I came into contact with Dr. Carl Boyd through my mother. After my father passed away my mother tried to make sure that I always had strong male role models growing up and Mr. Boyd was one of the first that she chose. My mother knew Dr. Boyd from her involvement in various community organizations in Kansas City.

Dr. Carl Boyd circa 2005

Dr. Boyd had started an organization called Generation Rap in order to provide pre-teen and teenagers a place to utilize their energies for community activism and development. I became involved by chance during my early high school years, and eventually went on to become the Vice President for a Dr. Boyd also hosted a radio show on KPRS the Hot 103 radio station, also called Generation Rap. Often I would volunteer at the radio station with a friend of mine, Asahn Wyatt, and we eventually became a part of the show. His hour-long program features guest speakers, along with inner city youth, with discussions on different topics that focus on the everyday issues that affect the youth of today. Boyd's dedication for youth went even further, as he was also the producer and host for the television talk show, Teens Talking to Teens, which aired monthly on KCPT.

Dr. Boyd began teaching in Chicago's public schools in 1964. In his first 10 years of teaching, he received six awards for outstanding service. His next teaching assignment was in Kansas City, where, after only six weeks, he received an award for outstanding service from his peers. He was the President and Founder of his own company, The Art of Positive TEACHING, an educational consultant firm located in Kansas City, MO. As an educational consultant, Dr. Boyd traveled throughout the United States and Canada helping teachers and administrators solve the problems they may incur while working with students with problem lives or students who are at-risk, and diversity and/or cultural commonality.

I remember how much I enjoyed hearing Dr. Boyd speak and the dedication he had for teaching children. I also respected his ability to take on tough topics and cause people to think further and deeper than they often had. As a radio host Mr. Boyd was a master often being able to take callers and difficult discussions and turning them for the positive. The highlight of my weekends was when I was able to be involved in the Generation Rap radio show, and as a by product I was able to volunteer at KPRS which led to a further pride in who I was as a young adult. I have a lot of fun and interesting memories from that time and enjoyed interacting with all of the staff at the radio station.

I also had a lot of respect for how much Dr. Boyd loved his wife Wanda. I remember how he would end his radio show with the words, "Gracious God and wonderful Wanda; I'm on my way home." The radio show would then fade out to the music of Sam Cook. I remember how Dr. Boyd related a story of how someone once asked him why his wife Wanda was so wonderful. He said that he responded with the following.

"When I think about why I love my wife I really can't say exactly why. What I can tell you is that I like so many things about her. I like her personality; I like who she is, and how she looks. I like the way she treats others and motivates me. Yet, why I love her that is a bit of a mystery. Yet, I am glad that God has given me the ability to love someone whom I like so much."

It was this statement that inspired me at the age of 16 that I wanted someone to love in that way, and changed the landscape of who I was becoming. I to wanted to be married to someone who would be a joy to return to and who could inspire me to be a legend in my own right. That is exactly what Dr. Boyd was in Kansas City, a legend, because he had dedicated himself to an ideal and because of his character he was light to all of us who struggled in darkness. He even started a scholarship fund that helped several of us while we were in college.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to say thank you to Dr. Boyd for all that he did for me. I now feel sorrow in my heart because all of my attempts to locate Dr. Boyd so I can thank him have failed. I have searched the internet and asked people I knew from Kansas City. The last I heard several years ago he had cancer and he and his wife had moved to Arizona, but I can't find anything else on him.

I wish there was a way to find out if he is still alive so I can let him know what he has meant to me. If this is not possible I will have to live my life as an example of what he did for me. Dr. Boyd always made a point of standing for something, even when it was more popular to sit in the face of social apathy. He also knew how to bring opposing sides together, when it would have been to his advantage to back away. In this regard he saved my life, because he was an example, he was a hero, and he taught me what it meant to stand for something.


Hero #2 - Dr. Freddie Frazier

I met Dr. Freddie Frazier during my sophomore year of college at Prairie View A&M University. It was a chance meeting at that due to the fact that I originally was not supposed to take any classes from him.

When I entered Prairie View I was going through the now defunct Benjamin Banniker Honors College. As a part of this student program we were limited in the professors we could take for certain classes. As I began preparing for my Calculus I course I was told by numerous engineers to take Dr. Frazier because he was the best. I of course did not because I felt that I had to stay true to the Banneker course outline of professors.

It happened that after I took Calculus I felt like I didn't understand the subject matter even though I had received a passing grade, so I took the class over under Dr. Frazier. I didn't know about Dr. Frazier beyond his reputation as one of the best math teachers on campus. I don't there was anything that would have prepared me for the man, the myth and the legend.

Dr. Freddie Frazier circa 1997

Dr. Frazier was an interesting character in many ways, but what I remember the most was how much he cared about his students. He cared not just about how you were doing in the class, but also how you were doing personally. There was always one of these feelings about Dr. Frazier that I remember the most and that is when he walked somewhere you wanted to walk with him.

He was also a man with a good sense of humor. He would often come into a math class teach a few problems and then talk about how "smooth" he was at teaching math. He would often start a problem, show us the method, and then wave his hands through his hair and say, "Now that is smooth." He would then go out to men in the class and seek a "hand shake" or a "high five" after completing a problem.

Dr. Frazier was very energetic and witty, but he was also not one to allow a student to slip by in class with less than their best. I remember many times when Dr. Frazier would confront a student for doing badly on his test. Now mind you saying, "confront" is putting it lightly. There are times when he would get the face of someone who failed his tests and tell them off in front of the entire class. I remember once he marveled at this to me privately saying that when he was younger and wasn't very religious he would swear at students who did bad in his class and he they would still come back to his class. He could never understand that, outside of the fact that he was so smooth.

I remember a time when Dr. Frazier gave a quiz, which would be ever Friday. I was having a bad day because of a woman I had liked who was in the class. I came to the class very angry and as I sat and took my quiz I completed all of the 20 problems except two. In my rage I could not remember how to do the integration of a log. So I finished early and gave Dr. Frazier my test. As I handed my test to him he asked how well did I think I had done. I handed him the paper and I said, "I don't know and I don't care." So I left the class and walked out of the building. As I was walking away from the building in anger and rage about the girl and not caring about the quiz, I heard a voice beyond me yelling out what sounding like my name. The problem was that each time I heard the voice it was yelling out my name incorrectly. I turned to see Dr. Frazier standing at the entrance to the math building gripping my quiz as if he was choking someone to death. As he stood strangling my paper in his hands he was yelling, "Over, Aver, what ever your name is. You get back here and do this test right or I will come out there and kick your butt!"

I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. I thought to myself this man is crazy and part of me wanted to just ignore him, but I was a bit stunned by the fact that he had left the class to come and yell at me and threaten to kick my butt over two problems out of 20. An 80% would not be a problem for most people in this life, but at that moment it was a big problem for Dr. Frazier. So I decided to return to the math building and as I approached Dr. Frazier he made me walk back to the classroom while telling me, "Don't you ever turn in some mess like that again, or I will kick your butt!" As we walked back into the room everyone in the class began laughing at me, and I even laughed a bit myself. I sat down figure out the answers to the two problems and then handing it in again, with Dr. Frazier still threatening to kick my butt.

I was later told by friends of mine in the class that after I had turned in the quiz the first time Dr. Frazier had looked at it and then saw the two problems I did not do. He then jumped up and ran towards the door while saying, "OH hell no!" That is when he of course made me come back and sit there until I did both problems correctly. I received a 100% on the test needless to say, and a good laugh for the day.

There are many stories with Dr. Frazier like and he was truly an interesting character. Dr. Frazier also had a thing against men wearing ear rings and he would make male student take out their "ear bobs" (ear rings) before they walked into his class. Dr. Frazier also liked to get the women in the class to argue with him. He would normally start with a math problem, and in the middle of the problem he would make statements about how when a man talks a woman is quiet. Of course this would get the women in the class in an uproar. Dr. Frazier loved this and of course most of the men in the class loved to see and we often quoted him outside of class. Yet, it is funny to note that in one class the women caught on to how Dr. Frazier was just doing it to be funny and he really didn't mean anything by it. So one day he started into his usual routine and when he mentioned how women were to be quiet none of the women responded to him. He looked a bit shaken and he went out to the women in the class and said, "What you don't want to argue with me?" None of them responded and Dr. Frazier had to stick to math.

Dr. Frazier also liked to talk about how smooth he was with his wife, and how good he was with her. I remember once he was talking about how smooth he was in the classroom and then he got on the subject of dancing. He boldly stated, "You think I am smooth in the classroom, you should see me on the dance floor with my wife. When I am dancing I will take her and spin her around, send her out and when I need her to come back she comes. I am smooth on the dance floor too."

I remember once Dr. Frazier in a private moment talking about how good his wife was for him. He mentioned that when they were a young couple living in an apartment and how they wanted to have a house. He said that his wife would take all of their money and save it up as he was working on the plan for the house. As he went out finding the place and having and architect draw up the plans for the house his wife kept things in order to protected their investments. When they finally built the house of their dreams they were the first people on their block so Dr. Frazier named the first street after his wife. He ended the story by saying, "My wife.....I tell you that is a good woman." He later added that when he first met his wife he knew that she was the one because he saw what kind of character she had and her integrity. He claims that he one day approached her and bluntly told her, "Woman you are going to marry me!" and then he walked off. I asked him, "Doc is that all you said?" He responded, "There was nothing else that I needed to say I just left because I knew she was a good woman and that she would be mine and she is."

Another memorable story I remember of Dr. Frazier came from one of his lectures to some of the young men that he had working in his lab. A few of us were sitting around talking to him, and somehow the subject of Michael Jordon came up. All of a sudden Dr. Frazier says to us, "You know I make more money than Michael Jordon right?" All of us looked at each and then at Dr. Frazier and someone responded, "Doc how are going to say that you make more money than Michael Jordon?" So Dr. Frazier, as if he was waiting for someone to ask that one so he could explain it, sat us all down and then he approached the chalkboard in the office. He drew two circles, one with Michael Jordon's name and the other with his (Dr. Frazier) in the center. He first went to Michael Jordon's name and said, "Every time Jordon scores a slam dunk or wins a game he makes so many millions."

Dr. Frazier proceeded to draw lines to bubbles with money signs coming from the Michael Jordon's bubble. Dr. Frazier continued saying, "So Jordon, lets say plays basketball or baseball for about 15 or so years and he keeps making millions." So then Dr. Frazier went to the circle with Dr. Frazier in the center. He then stated, "Now when I go into a class room full of 40 or 50 students and I teach them math, I teach them how to live their lives properly then when they graduate they become productive men and women. So then they go out and make $50,000, $60,000, some even make now $100,000, etc. They then go out and help other people to make money. They also go out and work within their communities." Dr. Frazier continued, "I have been teaching math for more than 30 years and I have taught more than 5 or 6 classes per semester. I also do seminars in math and I have made videotapes on how to do well in math. I have taught engineers to do Advanced Math, and physicists how to do complex equations. So as you can see that every time I help a student excel score one for Dr. Frazier. Those students go out and make money and that his how I MAKE more money than Michael Jordon." He then proceeded to sit down with I am know I am smooth look on his face.

I also remember how Dr. Frazier helped many students out of dire situations. Situations such as not having a enough money to remain in school, not passing critical tests needed for entering certain programs, uncertainty about life, and various other problems that young people face in college. There are several times when Dr. Frazier's help kept me from either loosing an apartment that I could not afford or even just having a job on campus to help pay the bills.

In one case I did not have enough money graduate. It was lacking about $1,000 and I had no one to turn to. It took everything I had to swallow my pride and ask Dr. Frazier for help. I already owed him big time for his help in the past, and I felt so ashamed to ask for help again. When I told him the amount I needed, he said this to me.

"Ehav when you ask a man for this kind of money you are asking him to put aside some of his hopes and dreams. Whether you pay me back or not this is something that you have to consider. Let me call my wife and see what we can do."
He did that and his wife gave him the okay. I graduated, but I was not able to pay Dr. Frazier back for a number of years. That was until I was saying my goodbyes in 2007 before I moved to Israel. I was able to catch up with Dr. Frazier and that is when I pulled out my checkbook. I almost had tears in my eyes as I said the following.

Dr. Frazier one of the reasons I came here today was not only to say goodbye, but also to remind you of something. In 1998 I needed help with $1,000 so I could graduate. You put away some of your hopes and dreams, in order to help me with mine and today I want to return those hopes and dreams to you, and thank you. You saved my life, and I have spent these past few years trying to figure out ways to pay you back, and now before I go back home to Israel God has given me the way I needed. Thank you.

Dr. Frazier was also a light in spiritual matters as he was a religious man and was always concerned about the spiritual content of his students and our relationships with God. I remember once Dr. Frazier encouraged me to pray at a time when I felt like I was alone in the world. Without me saying a word he was able to see that I was hiding a certain hurt in my heart, and he made it his business to confront me and draw me closer to truth. I owe Dr. Frazier a great debt for taking me under his wing. He provided me with the support and guidance I desperately needed in college.


Want to see what I wrote about on Day 1?


[i] Panic, by the Dilated People, Expansion

6 comments:

Shelly said...

Hi there,

I have just finished my first day of Positive Blogging! Feels good...

Please check it out if you have a moment:
www.boringblackchick.blogspot.com

BTW could you add me to the list of Positive Bloggers on your page? I feel so lonely and left out ;-)

Lisa said...

Wow! These are two great people. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as I read about Dr. Frazier. . . This man was SMOOTH! I am really enjoying positive blog week as well . . . it's turning out to be a lot of fun and extremely eye opening. . .

Now, it's time for a shameless plug. . . come check out my positivity at alisha9.wordpress.com, and add me to the positive blogroll, I'm left out too! :)

Bohemian Hippie Chick said...

Nice post Ehav! Dr. Boyd sounds like a beautiful person, I hope you're able to find him.

Dr. Frazier must have been something else! He probably would've kicked your butt if you hadn't finished that test!

They both sound like amazing people, thanks for sharing!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

Nice post. I really enjoyed reading it. Teachers are so important in the lives of so many, it's truly a calling to teach.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Lisa and Shelly. Sorry I didn't add you at first. There has been so much interest in A Week of Positive Blogging that I may need to hire someone to help me. (smile) I have added you now. Thanks for the interest, and I will be reading your blogs soon.

Hey BHC. I also hope that I can somehow find Dr. Boyd. He really made a difference in my life. Yeah, Dr. Frazier was something else. He once told me that I was like a son to him. That meant a lot since my father died when I was 3 and I don't know what it is like to have a father.

Hey MDC. Yes, I agree that teachers deserve a lot of due. World wide they are paid so little, and sometimes not supported, but they do so much for the world.

Anonymous said...

This professor happened to pop into my head today. I took his class back in 1989 or 1990. I went on to earn my degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked in that field before leaving it to go into teaching about 8 years ago. These stories are exactly as I remember him. I'm so glad I thought of him today. I realize that a bit of my personality as a teacher is from the privilege of taking his differential equations class. I need more of my personality to be his. I'll never have that charisma, but I can certainly have the same message.