Author Alton Carter Visits McClymondsPosted by Leah Jensen at 12/15/2015 12:30:00 PM
Mack scholars filed into the McClymond’s Library first thing Tuesday morning, December 1, 2015 to hear our third esteemed author speak. Mr. Alton Carter of Stillwater, Oklahoma spoke humbly, with integrity and transparency about his troubled childhood. The stories are captured in his debut memoir, The Boy Who Carried Bricks. For an entire hour, the students were fixated on Carter, who recounted the pains of neglect, lack of parenting, abuse, and hunger. Each bite of a story dovetailed into a strong message about choices leading to a better life.
During one account of abuse by an older boy withstood at a boys ranch at the age of 10, one student reacted strongly and challenged our speaker, “Why didn’t you fight back? You were weak!” With all eyes on Mr. Carter, his response was sincere and deeply profound. “I was only 10 and I was scared. I could of fought back, but then I would of been like all the other boys and men in my family. It’s about choices. And in the end, I never gave up my watch.” I watched how this student reacted to Carter’s response. He was pensive. I can not say what he was thinking but he did not say anymore. He just kept listening.
This interaction represents an important dialogue that demonstrates not only the safety of our space for our scholars to speak up but to explore what it means to be weak and strong, to stand up for what’s important for you and use nonviolent strategies to maintain respect.
Mr. Carter did not hold anything back sharing the stories of all the men in his family minus his grandfather who provided the only voice of reason. Drug and alcohol addiction, overdoses, long prison sentences, domestic abuse, dropping out of school were all fates shared by his brothers and uncles. “What made me different?” Carter posed to the students. One young lady immediately responded, “your choice.” “Yes,” he responded and paused, “in fact, though, I am no different that anyone in my family. Only in the choices I made.”
Mr. Alton Carter was the first person in his family to graduate from high school and college. In 2015, Carter founded the Alton Carter Inspire Foundation with the goal of assisting young people who have lived in foster care, group homes, or DHS juvenile facilities in securing a college degree. A percentage of the book sales from The Boy Who Carried Bricks goes to this cause.
After the talk, each Mack scholar received their own copy of the book and had them personally signed by Mr. Carter. Some students stayed on and spoke with Mr. Carter and shared their own stories. This experience is exactly the culture we are building here at McClymonds; connecting our scholars with authors, continuing to build the ‘love of reading’ and creating a safe, collaborative space to be inspired and build self esteem.
Thank you to Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries (FOPSL) for purchasing the books and thank you to our District Library Manager, Amy Cheney, who personally provides the connection to these profound authors.