Reflection :: 4th Annual Safe at Home Game

The 4th Annual Safe at Home Game was played on August 4, 2018 at the MooreClendenon Baseball Field on the historic campus of Booker T. Washington High School.  Three specific things immediately come to mind as I reflect on the success of this year’s event:
·         the place,
·         the people, and
·         the point.
The Place – Home at the Historic Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta, GA
The first three years, the Safe at Home Games were played at Georgia Tech’s Russell Chandler Stadium.  This year we brought it home to Booker T. Washington High School.
In September 2014, APIVEO founder, Brad Jubin, accepted my invitation to come out to Washington High School and give a short pre-game talk on leadership to the players at one of our L.E.A.D. Fall Legacy League self-officiated games. 
Brad had his son Christian with him, and after he addressed the players, he and his son stayed to watch the first game despite his apprehension over the location.  Suffice it to say that it is not the same neighborhood that it was when Martin Luther King, Jr. was a student at Washington High School. That said, what Brad and his son, witnessed on the field that day and learned about the people who live in the community became the impetus for the Safe at Home Game.  
Brad and Christian’s visit came just a few weeks after Michael Brown, an unarmed Black man, was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, MO.  Seems like we were all looking for a solution to ease tensions between Black communities and police, because a few months after his visit, Brad contacted Kelli and me to discuss what he had learned that day and asked what we thought about the possibility of a baseball game between inner city kids and cops. We spoke further, and the rest is history.
From a personal perspective, Washington High School is special because of family ties.  My mother, who had me as a teenager, is a graduate of Washington High School, my uncle Bob met my Aunt Margie there, and my nieces graduated from there this past school year.

Officer J.T. Somers and DeAngelo Nowell, Jr.

The People – Atlantans Come Together at the Right Place at the Right Time
According to the 2017 U.S. Census, Atlanta has an estimated population of 5,884,736.  A mere fraction of Atlanta’s population attended the game this year, but they were all the right people; there for the right reason. 
The people who came out were clearly there to support building bridges between the Black community and Atlanta’s police through their common passion for baseball. 
The stands were filled with fans cheering for the cops as well as the Ambassadors.  Even though the Ambassadors came up short for the second consecutive year, everyone agreed that it didn’t matter because we all won, and Atlanta continues to win through the goodwill and brotherhood generated between the players by the Safe at Home Game.
The Point – Leading the Ambassadors into a Sustainable Life of Significance
I maintain that Atlanta will never become a world-class city until hundreds of thousands of Black males are living a sustainable life of significance, which may include careers in public service.  Leading Atlanta’s at-risk young Black men to live such lives is what I do every day.  I am intentional about how I lead these young men and commit to exposing them to experiences that will inspire them and lead to their success.
The Safe at Home Game has become such an event.  It is one that I rely on to inspire our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors into public service.  Through their participation, the Ambassadors get to know some of Atlanta’s hard-working public servants with who they have something in common.
For instance, they have unfettered access to Atlanta’s police officers and are provided with a unique perspective into their lives.  One officer that has become a role model is Assistant Chief of Police, Rodney Bryant.  He is an Atlanta native, educated in the Atlanta Public School system just like the Ambassadors. He attended M. Agnes Jones Elementary School and Sylvan Hills High School.
Elected officials have also become interested in the Safe at Home Game and participate in various ways.  This year Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens presented a proclamation to the players making August Safe at Home Month in Atlanta.  Councilman Dickens is a fifth generation Atlantan and proud product of the Atlanta Public School System where he graduated from Benjamin E Mays High School. He also played baseball.  The Councilman’s interaction is meaningful to the Ambassadors because they are familiar with him, where he comes from and who he has become. They look up to him, admire his achievements, and are inspired.
For L.E.A.D. to be successful, our work must be intentional.  As I look ahead in planning the 5thAnnual Safe at Home Game, I will keep these three things in mind as foundational to its continued success.  Atlanta’s success is counting on it.

L.E.A.D. Ambassadors with Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens