ST. PETERSBURG – The induction of the inaugural class of the Woodson Warriors took place last Fri., Feb. 5 at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Eighteen young men and their families were celebrated by the community for taking the initiative to ensure their success.
“These young men represent everything that we anticipate as ambassadors of our community,” said Terri Lipsey Scott, chair of the Woodson Museum. She implored the audience to encourage and support the young men and to ensure that “those things that are important to you will also become important to them.”
These 18 young men were hand chosen from Melrose Elementary School, a school that has been dubbed the “failingest” school in the state.
“Since Melrose is within a stone’s throw of the Carter G. Woodson, we felt it imperative that we do something,” said Scott, who wrangled her husband, Clarence Scott, into presiding over the ceremony.
The museum had already started a similar program with the young ladies from Melrose and decided to incorporate a program for the boys.
“We got a group of men who have graciously comported and stated that they will work with us to groom these boys and cultivate them to become champions of men,” she said.
The Woodson Warriors have been in existence for about three weeks, and within that short period of time the young men have participated in the museum’s MLK Day of Service, marched in the Drum Major of Justice Parade with the mayor, attended etiquette sessions and trainings with regards to manhood, respect and obedience.
Volunteers throughout the community from all walks of life have so graciously given of their time to mentor the Warriors. They are blessed to have gentlemen from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and even teachers from Melrose Elementary to ensure them of success
Scott felt it was important for the Warriors to also have role models that weren’t adults, so she enlisted the services of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity League Male Leadership Institute.
“These boys motivate and encourage them to keep their eyes on the prize because we are losing children in elementary school. For them to see a young person still in school will hopefully motivate them,” she said.
The induction ceremony is just the beginning for these Warriors. They will continue to meet at the museum throughout the school year. In that time they will learn black history, learn about individuals in the community, work on their literacy skills and participate in technology based activities. Each child was given a tablet and different programs and books are continually uploaded on them.
“They will be setting their eyes and goals on something that is not necessarily football or basketball or rapping, but knowing that there are honorable professions that they can actually achieve and attain here in the community,” said Scott.
So far the program is a success. Scott said that every time she pulls up to the museum she has a bevy of boys waiting for her.
“They come here for the art, the culture and literacy, but more importantly just for the structure and discipline,” she said. “I love it. I’m so intrigued. Those are my boys.”
Councilmembers Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Karl Nurse, County Commissioner Ken Welch and members of the St. Petersburg Police Department were all on hand to celebrate the 2016 class of the Woodson Warriors.