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Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech


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On November 20, 2010, Graduation speech delivered by Lydia A. Hollie, JD/MAED, 2010 PTM Fellow, Passing The Mantle Clergy and Lay Institute, University of Southern California School of Religion and Civic Culture, in Los Angeles, CA.

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Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech

  2. 2. 2 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010 PASSING THE MANTLE (PTM) CLERGY AND LAY INSTITUTE USC SCHOOL OF RELIGION AND CIVIC CULTURE LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA GRADUATION SPEECH BY: LYDIA A. HOLLIE, JD, MAED 2010 PTM FELLOWGood Afternoon, Foremost, I give honor to God, and thank him for His Son, Jesus Christ, whogave His life so that I may life abundantly. Congratulations PTM Class of 2010! In the spirit of friendship, family, andcommunity service, let us always be mindful to “never underestimate the power of ouractions…with one small gesture we can change a person’s life. God puts us all of ineach others lives to impact one another in some way.” We were joined together tostruggle and achieve a new milestone in our lives so that His will is done on earth as itis in heaven. Today’s graduation ceremony is the embodiment of this declaration. Admittedly, upon receiving word from Rev. Mark Whitlock of my selection as oneof the speakers came as a complete surprise because I imagined someone other myselfstanding before you. Thank you, my fellow graduates, for honoring me as yourgraduation speaker today. We are sincerely grateful to our families and friends for their encouragementwhile we have labored to acquire the knowledge and skill-set that are vital to repairingthe fragile social fabric that weaves our communities together. Thank you being oursupport system and cheering us on until we reached this day of graduation. After today,the real work begins and your support and encouragement will be needed more than
  3. 3. 3 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010ever before. We honor and are profoundly grateful to ("Speak Truth to Power") Rev. Dr. Cecil"Chip" Murray, (Think Strategically and Walk with Boldness), Rev. Mark Whitlock,(Raise Your Prophetic Voice to Advocate Public Policy Change) Rev. Eugene Williams,and (Build Your Organization on a Solid Foundation) Rev. Frank Jackson. Thank youfor your visionary, transformational leadership with the establishment of the PassingThe Mantle (PTM) Clergy and Lay Leadership Institute. Also, we thank the USC Schoolof Religion and Civic Culture for providing the ideal environment in which PTM Fellowsare not only educated at a state of the art campus, but are welcomed members of theUSC community. Many thanks to The James Irvine Foundation for its incrediblygenerous financial support so that the next generation of the agents of beneficialchange are fully prepared to address social, economic, and environmental justice issuesin their respective communities. Most especially, the graduates are truly grateful for Ms.Sumaya Abubaker, a phenomenal woman, who expertly managed all the administrativeobligations and tasks associated with PTM. Sumaya, you have been the glue whichhas held all of us together. Each of you are responsible for making this day possible.Thank you all for being a stellar of example of why obedience is truly greater thansacrifice.What is the significance of Passing The Mantle in our lives? The significance of PTM isdemonstrative on three levels: The Mantle, Educational Experience, and MentorRelationships. “Understanding The Mantle.“ In Strongs concordance, the Hebrew word"addehreth" is a cloak made of fur or fine material, for example, a prophets garment.The etymology, or root, of addehreth is noble one, mighty, excellent, glorious, goodly,gallant. The English equivalent is "mantle", garment, goodly, and robe. Dictionary.comindicates that a synonym for mantle is cover or covering. And in Merriam-Webster,"mantle" is defined as a loose, sleeveless garment worn over other clothes; a cloak.
  4. 4. 4 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010This reference also represents Mantle to be a figurative cover symbolizing preeminenceor authority. So, we have the covering to walk in the authority passed on to us by ourelders who are the righteous sons of God. The PTM Educational Experience. The Apostle Paul admonishes us in Romans12:2, "and be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing ofyour mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will ofGod.” As I reflected upon on the PTM experience, I realize that Reverends Murray,Whitlock, Williams, and Jackson created an environment specifically designed to initiatethe process of renewing our minds and spirit through which transformational change isaccomplished. Our collective memory vividly recalls the weeklong residential experience wherewe were served and nourished with excellent classes, including, outstanding thought-provoking lectures on civic engagement, policy advocacy, and other social, economic,and environmental justice issues, small group collaborations, whole class discussions,the daily walking exercise from our housing facility to Davidson Hall, and the morningpraises as well as the nightly fellowship and revivals held at The Chapel. Of course, themeticulously prepared and delicious meals and refreshments were the perfectcompliment to our learning experience during the Institute. Albert Einstein concluded, "You cant solve a problem from the sameconsciousness that created it." Brainstorming and formulating new thoughts andexamining modern day solutions to age-old problems were particularly demanding. Yet,since this summer in July, we forged ahead reminded by the immortal words of thevenerable Frederick Douglass, "where there is no struggle, there is no progress."Indeed, as a result of PTM’s process of renewal we have entered into a zone ofheightened awareness and a deepened consciousness for each of us. And The Mentor Relationship. Mentoring factored prominently throughout theInstitute, both on and off campus. The open door policy of the Institutes leadership waskey to building our competence and confidence to persevere through the Institute’s
  5. 5. 5 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010curriculum to completion. Accessibility to the knowledge, wisdom, and salient advice ofthe Revs. Murray, Whitlock, Williams, Jackson, and Najuna Smith-Pollard have beenpivotal to crystallizing our focus and fine-tuning our concepts and proposals for systemsand policy change.Life’s Equation Today, we have reached another milestone in our lives and it has beensimultaneously exciting and life-affirming. As a result of PTM, we are ready, willing, andfully capable to continue this journey of civic engagement and policy advocacy with theconfidence and the ability to think with greater depth and breadth about how toeffectively reconfigure of our communities in a lasting and meaningful way. And we will do so through study and scholarship, servant-leadership, andcommunity service. These core principles are variables in “Lifes Equation, which is,The Events in Our Lives plus How we Respond to those Events equals The Outcome.”As servant-leaders, each of us can reflect on the myriad of events in our respectivecommunities, how we have responded, and what were the outcomes. The Event in My Life. In my Central Long Beach community where thepopulation is approximately 46,000, 34% live below the federal poverty level where theannual median household income for a family of four is $21,000, and 52% of thiscommunity subsists on $15,000 a year or less. Fifty-five percent have not completedhigh school and only 9 percent are high school graduates. For decades, this areasuffered with the notoriety of having the highest violent crime rates in the city of LongBeach. For ten years, I attended funerals, watched others enter the jail and prisonsystem, and observed the devastation on the family and neighborhoods where crimescenes were a regular occurrence. The inspirational Cesar Chavez reminds us that "we cannot seek achievementfor ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community...Ourambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their
  6. 6. 6 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010sakes and for our own." This observation lies at the heart of civic engagement whichProfessor Thomas Ehrlich, a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for theAdvancement of Teaching, defines as "working to make a difference in the civic life ofour communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, andmotivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community,through both political and non-political processes." He goes on to say that, "A morallyand civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of the alarger social fabric and therefore consider social problems to be at least partly his or herown; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, tomake and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action whenappropriate." How did I Respond to the Events in My Community? My response was driven bythe realization that I have a moral and ethical responsibility to make a difference in thequality of life in my community. Since 2002, my role in civic engagement in Long Beachhas been as a relentless advocate for effective and humane approaches to addressyouth and gang violence prevention and intervention, specifically in the area of buildingcommunity capacity and empowering its members to work collaboratively to make aqualitative difference in their collective civic lives. During my tenure as Chair of the citysHuman Relations Commission, a comprehensive report on the problem of youth andgang violence was written, approved by the community leadership, including the LongBeach Police Department, and unanimously adopted by the Long Beach City Council in2003. That report called for a community based, multi-agency collaborative and theLong Beach Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Task Force was established in 2004,and for the three years, formalized and strengthened police-community relations. InAugust 2007, the Task Force birthed the Long Beach Weed and Seed Program whoseSteering Committee envisions "Establishing Model Communities, One Neighborhood ata Time." This Program was awarded $1 million divided equally between lawenforcement and the community over a 5-year period , and its community-based, multi-
  7. 7. 7 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010agency Steering Committee has budgetary oversight of the expenditure of these funds.Programmatic strategic planning lay the foundation for building the programs capacityto navigate a paradigm shift from conventional approaches to 21st century public safetyrestructuring, including, family engagement and violence prevention, workforcedevelopment and reentry, neighborhood restoration, and targeted law enforcement andcommunity policing. What has been the Outcome? Since its inception, the Long Beach Weed andSeed Program collaborative over the past two years has: (1) achieved a 27% drop inviolent crime, (2) a reduction in gang activity and truancy citations, (3) built aCommunity Peace Garden while strengthening intergenerational relationships betweenour youth and community elders, (5) conducted periodic community assessments forcomprehensive planning; (6) incubated parent empowerment workshops in English,Khmer, and Spanish as well as a Youth Development Program and (7) in March 2010,our site was one of nine nationwide to be awarded a technical assistance grant by theUSDOJ 2010 Reentry Employment Initiative to receive in-depth training and technicalassistance with the development of a Comprehensive Reentry Services Strategic Plandesigned to aid reentrants in making a seamless transition back to the community,which will be used as a model for citywide implementation.Reflecting of Passing The Mantle Based on the teachings of PTM, I understand and I am fully persuaded thatpublic service is a ministry of the highest calling, and it is the epitome of servant-visionary leadership, boldness, compassion, and humility. Revs. Murray, Whitlock,Williams, and Jackson exemplified these characteristics. As representatives of thePassing The Mantle Institute, these men are servant-visionary leaders in action. Theywork together in common union with others to serve the community’s best interestswhile simultaneously envisioning and moving toward the ultimate destination. And they
  8. 8. 8 Passing The Mantle Institute Graduation Speech USC School of Religion and Civic Culture/November 10, 2010have prepared us to be an example of those same quality traits in our respectivecommunities. As a leader in our community, we become a choreographer and facilitatorthat seek to orchestrate a symphonic, harmonious, and holistic approach to developingthe human infrastructure in an ever-changing world. We are a beacon of hope and lightthat shines through daily hardships and brightens the lives of others around us. PTMhas prepared and expects us to use our leadership to inform, educate, encourage,empower, and help our communities evolve into a magnet where people will be drawnto come and live, work, visit, or worship because the environment is growing, thriving,and prospering. Our community is waiting on us and it places its future in our hands.Conclusion Finally, my fellow graduates as we continue our journey let us align ourselveswith II Timothy 1:7, "for God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, anda sound mind." Now that we have received The Mantle, we shall walk in thepreeminence of our authority, listen with our prophetic ears, raise our prophetic voices,speak truth to power with boldness and courage, and bring peace and prosperity to themasses. We thank God for Passing The Mantle. Again, congratulations and may God bless each of you in your present and futureendeavors.