In the bestselling tradition of The Pact and The Freedom Writers
Diarythe inspiring story of one woman's extraordinary promise and steely
determination to make a difference in the world.
One morning in 1987 Oral Lee Brown walked into a corner store in East Oakland, California, to buy snacks for work. A little girl asked her for a quarter, and Brown assumed that she wanted to buy candy, but surprisingly she bought bread and bolognastaples for her family.
Later that day Brown couldn't get the little girl out of her mind. Why wasn't she in school? Why was she out begging for money to buy food for her family? After several weeks of not being able to sleep, Brown went to look for the girl at the local elementary school and soon found herself in a first-grade classroom. She didn't find the little girl, but before she left she found herself promising the kids that if they finished high school, she would pay for their college education.
At the time, Oral Lee Brown made only $45,000 a year.
But years later, after annually saving and investing $10,000 of her own money and establishing the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, this remarkable woman made good on her promise: after nineteen of the original twenty-three students graduated from high school, she sent them all to college. And in May of 2003, LaTosha Hunter was the first of Brown's "babies," as well as the first person in her family, to graduate from college.
This marvelous and inspiring book is the amazing story of one woman's unending desire to make a difference. And if once was not enough, in 2001 Brown made the same promise to three new classrooms of first, fifth, and ninth-graders. Brown and her foundation are now committed to adopting a new crop of kids to send to college every four years.
Brown's pledge to the students was not without great personal and public sacrifice. Her promise turned her life upside-downit strained her relationships, and at times required her to work several different jobs. Brown also developed a strong emotional attachment to the childrenfor many of these students Brown was the one consistent adult in their lives.
In a world short on heroes, altruism, and dedication, The Promise shows that it is still possible to change lives for the better. This book will encourage, uplift, and inspire every reader.
A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Oral Lee Brown Foundation.
The Education of Oral Lee Brown
Even though I acted as a surrogate parent to twenty-three kids, I didn't
always understand what they were going through growing up. I couldn't compare my
childhood to theirs at all. Even though I'm just in my early sixties, and was
only in my forties when I made my promise, the world of my childhood has
disappeared. Well, in most ways, I hope!
I was born in Mississippi in the early 1940s, in a small town just outside Batesville. At the time Batesville, which is on the Tallahatchie River about fifty miles southwest of Memphis, Tennessee, had a population of about 15,000 people. The most interesting thing about Batesville when I was growing up was the fact that it was on the main train line that wound through the country, so we got to see all kinds of people coming and going when we were children. We also got to dream of leaving on that train, and believe you me, did I dream of leaving Mississippi! Even as a ...
Oral Lee Brown was born in
Mississippi in the early 1940s. She is the ninth of twelve children
born to 'old-fashioned farming folk' who grew cotton and corn. Today
she lives in Oakland, California.
Although California reports an official graduation rate of 87% to the Federal Government using a Federal formula, on the Dept of State website they say the rate is closer to 71% (based on the % of freshmen who enter high school and go on to earn a diploma four years later). That number is troubling enough, but things look even worse when broken down by ethnic group - according to The Civil Rights Project at Harvard the Californian graduation rate for African-...
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