Let me start off by saying that I am so proud of all of you. You have faced many challenges over the past couple of years from rigorous course work, tackling exams, balancing extracurriculars and more. It’s was not always easy and yet here you are on the precipice of -more than likely your first of- what I hope to be many life achievements that you will always cherish. You may have thought that you weren’t going to make it and yet here you are, a graduate. Class of 2019, as many will challenge you this season to do your best and take risks, there is another challenge I must task you with. It is one that I am confident you are creative enough to figure out and strong enough to achieve.
Leadership is an attribute that not everyone is willing to assume. It often requires the acceptance of the risk of being criticized and also the courage of setting out in the face of adversity all on your own. Now, you can be a leader in the title. That’s great. However are you willing to be the leader who makes the tough decisions? The type of choice that while it serves the greater good with it requires the sacrifice of yourself.
I was listening to columnist Geoff Calkins one day and he tells the story of Morris Fair. In the early 2000’s, Memphis, TN had the opportunity to become the home of an NBA franchise. It was up to the City Council and County Commission to approve it in order have the team here, probably more accurately to approve funding for a new arena. It was a pretty safe bet that it would pass the city council but the real fight would be in the county commission. The vote was split. Democrats were in favor and the Republicans were against. Morris Fair was a fiscal conservative and his Republican colleagues urged him to vote against the proposal as they had. He looked at the numbers and they made sensed to him. However, I imagine that he also thought about the impact on the city. I gather that he considered the businesses that it would benefit in the downtown area and how the city has always rallied around the game of basketball.
He voted in favor of it!
If you live in Memphis then I don’t need to tell you the positive impact the Memphis Grizzlies being here has had on the city. It wasn’t just an economic but a social impact. That vote changed the trajectory of a city that needed it and provided so…