The Marks of a Truly Educated Man (Letter 12)

Dear Y.B.M.:

This letter is being written from the beautiful Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama.

If you are an upwardly mobile individual, you may have wondered from time to time, how does one know that he is educated? In other words, what are the marks of an educated man?

Here are some of the marks that I have observed about truly knowledgeable people or those considered truly educated:

First, they have a healthy and humble respect and reverence for Almighty God. This principle of an educated man is found in the Book of Wisdom, which is the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible. The verse reads: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

A person who does not acknowledge and reverence God Almighty is not considered a wise or educated man. In fact, God considers him a fool. “He is ignorant and knoweth nothing.” No matter how many years of schooling he has behind him, if he does not recognize and respect and fear Almighty God, he is a fool according to the Word of God. Psalm 14:1a says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

There is an old negro saying that also comes to mind here: “Education without salvation is damnation.”

The other day I saw a very striking sign at a church. It read:

The dead atheist
The dead agnostic
and the dead saint
All believe God exists now.

A second mark of an educated man is that he is humble enough to admit his ignorance. He realizes that no matter how much he learns, he will never learn or know everything.

Third, a truly educated man continues his education long after his years in high school and college. He learns until he dies. In the words of Quincy Jones: “He grows until he goes.”

Another mark of a truly educated man is that he is authentic. He is an original. He is for real. He is himself. He knows he does not have to be like anyone else. He is therefore original in his thinking, his speaking, and his writing. An educated man is normally very comfortable with himself as well as with others. One commentator uses this phrase: “He is comfortable in his own skin.” I like it.

Another mark of an educated man is that he uses his education and knowledge for wise and good purposes. Of course, he uses it to generate a living for himself and his family. But not only for that, he also uses it to help others who are less fortunate than himself.

Sixth, to me, one of the greatest marks of an educated man is the ability to express himself clearly through his speech and through his writing.

Then, an educated man is a disciplined man. A disciplined man is willing and able to “do the worst first.” He is willing and ready to tackle the difficult jobs and tasks even when he does not feel like doing them.

Eighth, the educated man exudes an inexplicable quiet confidence about himself. He is not loud, boisterous or arrogant. But you somehow get the feeling that he knows what he is doing. He normally does not say much, but you somehow sense that if he does say something, it would be more important and weighty than what most people have to say.

Ninth, the educated man is not a perfect man, but he strives to be a moral man. He has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. And it is his aim to do the right thing. Because of this, he normally finds favor in the sight of God and man.

Finally, another mark of an educated man is that he understands etiquette and protocol. In other words, not only is he smart; he knows how to look smart as well. He knows what to say in different settings. He knows how to act at a backyard barbecue as well as at a stately dinner. He dresses and acts appropriately on any given occasion.

Dear Y.B.M., I strongly suggest that you strive to be this kind of man.

For The Educated Black Man,


P.T.: Power Thoughts

T. S. Eliot said, “It is part of the function of education to help us escape — not from our own time, for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our own time.”

Aristotle said, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.”

Roy Wilkins said, “Nothing is more important than a good education.”

Someone once said, “Without education you are not going anywhere in this world. Education is the passport to our future.”

Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

H. G. Wells said, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

Graduating From College and Still Ignorant and Unlearned (Letter 11)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are increasing in knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

I am writing this letter from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Now on the matter of education, I would like to kindly say to you, dear friend, please, please do not graduate from college ignorant, and sounding and looking uneducated.

To me, one of the most appalling things to see is a young man or woman for that matter, who has gone through four years of college and turned out to be just as dumb and ignorant as before he or she went in. I am forever amazed at people who have graduated from college, yet butcher the English language, come out with muddled thinking, and do not even know basic facts of history. For crying out loud, please do not come out of college like that. That is a waste of money and time.

How do people come out of a four-year institution of higher learning ignorant anyway? I believe it is because they go into college with the wrong idea of what college is for. Some go with no intentions on learning anything. These dear souls have nothing else to do, so they go to college with their buddies to pass the time and to carry on the same childish antics that they did in high school. And before they know it, the time that they wanted to pass passes away, and they barely graduate having cheated and skated their way through college, never having learned the very basics of a college education.

Sadly, often times, these dear souls come out of college throwing down the same old foolishness they were throwing down before they went to college. Then they want a Fortune 500 Company to hire them on. And when they fail a simple test to get an entry-level position, they cry racism. How ridiculous!

Dear Y.B.M., if you have the opportunity to go to college, go to college to learn something — not to play.

Yours For Learning Something,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Bill Cosby said, “We cannot afford to settle for being just average; we must learn as much as we can to be the best that we can. The key word is education – that’s knowledge — education with maximum effort.”

Harry Houdini said, “My brain is the key to set me free.”

The Slogan of the United Negro College Fund is, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Steven Silbiger said, “The best possible investment you can make in your future is an education. Even if you default on your student loan, nobody can repossess your diploma.”

The Obstacles To Getting A Good Education (Letter 10)

Dear Y.B.M.:

At this writing, I am on the steps of the Coleman Library on the campus of Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida. I will be speaking in a couple of churches in the area on Sunday.

Frankly, I wish I had someone to write me like this when I was your age.

Now, on this important matter of getting a good college education: you will have some obstacles, to say the least.

The first obstacle that you will face is yourself. Why? Because the process of truly learning is laborious, monotonous, and at times downright bitter and boring. Therefore, obtaining a truly higher education will require of you a determined mind and a will to stick and stay. In short, it will take discipline. But in the end, it will be worth it all.

Your second obstacle to obtaining a higher education is the ever present lure of immediate money and gratification. This is a temptation. For example, you may have a good paying job right now and you don’t want to leave it to go to college or you don’t want to cut back on your hours so that you can go, at least, part-time. I recall, upon my graduation from high school, my parents wanted me to go on to college at Gardner-Webb College in North Carolina. However, I was too short-sighted, and, frankly, too foolish to take their advice because I had this restaurant job in high school that offered me a new job as trainer and assistant manager for new restaurants that were opening up. In my view, the money was good, so I opted for the fast money and the fast lifestyle of partying, women and drinking — immediate gratification. However, thankfully, by the grace of God, I came to my senses and began the higher learning process, and became a college graduate later.

My friend, you will learn in life that you must postpone gratification to reach for something far more important and valuable. One great preacher of the past put it this way:

You cannot offer up the future on the altar of the immediate.

Of course, he is so right. I hope that you will learn this great lesson early instead of later.

A third obstacle that you will face will be your friends. Just as all men do not have faith, all men do not have knowledge, or wisdom or good sense. Just because your friends appear to be cool and powerful does not mean they have wisdom and good sense. If they are not increasing in knowledge, and if they are not exhorting you to do the same, then you are flying with the wrong birds. Get rid of them. Don’t listen to them. Please don’t let them keep you back from something as valuable as this.

The fourth obstacle will be finding the right college. Every college or university is not necessarily the right institution of higher learning for you. There are some colleges and universities that “teach you why.” Then there are colleges and universities that “teach you how.” And then there are colleges and universities that “teach you why and how.” For the sake of common sense, please try to get into the college or university that can teach you the “why and the how.”

A good way to determine whether or not a college is a “why or how” college is by examining the kind of people the college produces.

The students who come from the “why school” and the students who come from the “how school” will normally have the following characteristics:

They have that locked in, locked down mentality (commonly called the slave mentality.) This mentality is bent on working for somebody for thirty years, retiring, and then dying with nothing. In my opinion, these people do not carry the edge of what I call inside knowledge.

The students from the “why and how” college or university on the other hand, will normally have the following characteristics:

Independent thinkers, innovative, entrepreneurs; they may work for somebody for a little while, but their aim is to be in charge of their own business or what have you. These kind of folks will normally rise to the top more quickly than the rest of the pack. They will have their eyes on being free and doing their own thing. They have the inside scoop — the inside knowledge.

Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

Your fifth obstacle, of course, will be the money. Please do not let the money problem strike fear into your heart because even in these days there are ways in which one can get an education, if he really wants to. Here are a few ways:

1. Prayer
2. Work part-time. Many have done it successfully.
3. Well-off family members.
4. External study colleges.
5. Junior or Community Colleges.
6. Scholarships for good grades
7. Financial Aid – Student Loans

And there are other options as well.

All I want to say to you in closing is this: I don’t care what it takes, or how much it costs, please get yourself a good education. You will never regret it.

For a Smarter Young Black Man,


Power Thoughts

Dr. Addie Mitchell said, “If you plan for a year, sow a seed;
If you plan for a decade, plant a tree
If you plan for a century, educate the people.”

Earl G. Graves said, “Education is the primary tool of emancipation and liberation for African-Americans in our fight for true equality in this country.”

Someone said, “Education is your passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Governor Douglas Wilder said, “In the absence of education, all else fails.”

The Importance of Increasing Knowledge (Letter 9)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I am writing this letter from the beautiful F.W. Bluford Library on the historically black North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am in town for a special meeting that I am to speak at in a local church. But my being here in this particular library is quite fitting since in this letter I wish to encourage you to get a good education. This matter of getting a good education, or rather, increasing your knowledge, is extremely important — so important that even God addresses it in His Word: the Bible. Notice these words from the book of Proverbs 1:5:

“A wise man will hear and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”

The value of getting a good education or “increasing your knowledge” is all around us. Notice just seven of the many advantages of “increasing your knowledge.”

First, through increasing your knowledge, you will receive personal enrichment and fulfillment.

Second, increasing your knowledge will give you a greater capacity to help others.

Third, getting a good education will, generally speaking, allow you throughout your life to do better financially and materially.

Fourth, increasing your knowledge will help you to deal with the vicissitudes of life better.

Fifth, increasing your knowledge will help you to interact with your family and other people better.

Sixth, getting a good education will allow you to better express yourself through speech and writing.

Seventh, increasing your knowledge can help you to become a more humble individual because you will find, as you increase in knowledge, how ignorant you really are. Now, you may not think humility is a good quality to possess, but the fact of the matter is that you can’t go up until you come down.

Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”

Matthew 18:4 says, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

The aforementioned advantages of getting a good education are just a few of the many advantages. There are many more. You will find them out as you increase your knowledge.

As I wrap this letter up, may I kindly but firmly say to you “CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE?” High school and college are not times to play! School time is not a time for partying! School is not a time for foolishness! School is serious business! Very serious business! Somebody somewhere is paying good money for you to obtain this knowledge. It is either your parents, some other member of your family, Mr. Tax-payer or yourself. This is not the time to be Mr. Cool! Change your attitude towards education, increase your knowledge and become a more powerful individual.

Do your best in High School, and get a good college education of some sort “by any means necessary.”

For the Increasing of Knowledge,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Nelson Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with as much knowledge as they.”

Romare Bearden said, “Real knowledge, properly used, will help anyone.”

Daniel J. Boorstin said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Daniel Whyte III said, “The classroom is a sanctuary.”

The Awesome Value of Reading (Letter 8)

Dear Y.B.M.:

This letter will be quite different from my previous letters in that I will not deal with the spiritual aspect of life, but rather the mental aspect of life.

First of all, may I kindly encourage you to spend as much time as you possibly can reading? At the writing of this letter, I am sitting in the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Hamden, Connecticut. Besides the library, a good bookstore is my next favorite place to be. If I am not careful, I can spend an entire day in a good bookstore. I go to libraries and bookstores often. When I go, there is always one thing that troubles me, however, and that is the conspicuous absence of young black men.

Why is it that many of us young black men do not read much? First, I believe that it is because many of us as young black boys were simply not turned on to reading as many of our white counterparts were. Rather, we were turned on to a heavy diet of television and sports. Another reason is because many of us had the wrong mentality and attitude about school while growing up. Instead of seeing it as a golden opportunity, we saw it as a place to skip, fight, run the girls, and as we got older, to party. Therefore, sadly, many of us missed out on gaining the importance and joy of reading. However, thankfully, it is never too late to start reading.

I am still sitting in the Barnes & Noble bookstore and every person walking through the door is a white male with the exception of one white female. Could it be that these people know something that we don’t? (By the way, in case you’re wondering, black people live all around this bookstore.)

You may ask: Well what is the big deal about reading? What are the benefits of reading, anyway? I am glad you asked. Consider with me some of the benefits of reading:

1. Through regular reading, you can become an “educated person” without following a rigid course of study.
2. Regular reading forces you to increase your vocabulary.
3. Through regular reading you can become a more interesting person to talk with.
4. Through regular reading, you are able to go places, mentally, that you may not be in a position to go physically.
5. Regular reading will help you become a better writer, speller and speaker.
6. Regular reading helps you to become a thinker.
7. Regular reading puts you head and shoulders above the crowd. As they say, “Readers are leaders.”

To help get you started in a fulfilling life of reading, if you have not started already, here are some suggested areas that you can explore outside of the Book of books – the Bible:

A. Read a good grammar book through a couple of times. This will help you immensely in so many areas.

B. Read a pocket dictionary through, over a good space of time, of course. (A page a day is a good pace.)

C. Read a good short history of the world. This will help give you a broader perspective on what is happening today.

D. Read a good history of Africa. This will help you to understand where you came from.

E. Read a couple of good Black American History books. This will help you to understand who you are.

F. Read the classics written by both black and white authors. These books will strengthen your vocabulary as well as put you in the category of the “educated people” in this society.

G. Read the great Christian classics. These will help encourage your faith.

H. Read a good weekly news magazine and a good daily newspaper. This will help you keep abreast of what is happening now. Your local librarian or bookstore owner will help you find any of the aforementioned subjects.

Read and Grow!

Signing off From Barnes & Noble,

Daniel Whyte III

Power Thoughts

P.T.: Someone once said, “A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Horace Mann said, “Resolve to edge in a little reading every day. If you gain but 15 minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of a year.”

Solomon B. Fuller said, “When you know that you don’t know, you’ve got to read.”

Langston Hughes said, “Books began to happen to me.”

William T. Vernon said, “Temples fall, statues decay, mausoleums perish, eloquent phrases declaimed are forgotten, but good books are immortal.”

James Washington said, “Books were my extended family.”