The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Actor empowers South students

By Bridgette Hall/reporter

An actor from the sitcom Martin encouraged students to overcome harsh words and to believe in themselves.

Tommy Ford was guest speaker for the district’s third annual African-American Heritage: Celebrating Strides Feb. 25 on South Campus.

“I remember when I was 7 years old,” he said. “I learned that perhaps I could be special. I want to be special. I want people to read about me doing something special!”

Tommy Ford speaks at South's Celebrating Strides Feb. 25. Photo courtesy Alex Roper
Tommy Ford speaks at South’s Celebrating Strides Feb. 25.
Photo courtesy Alex Roper

Ford continued talking about a trip to the grocery store. His grandmother told him, “You are special to me because you are my big boy!”

Ford was overcome with excitement to be “special” to someone in some way.

“Yay, Grandma, I am special,” he remembers saying. “I am a big boy!”

Once Ford was at the store, he was stopped in his tracks by a store clerk who made him feel as though he was not special at all.

“I know you, I know your people, and I know your dad,” the clerk said. “You look just like him. He was a bad man. He was a crackhead, and all he did was bad things. He was in prison his whole life, never was nothing. He was worthless, and you gonna be nothing just like him, worthless!”

The 7-year-old Ford ran all the way home to his grandma and cried to her as he told her what the clerk had said.

“Go wash your face and come back in here when you are done,” she said. “I don’t know what worthless looks like. I don’t know what nothing looks like, but I do know what change looks like. It is true that your dad did and was all those things, but you, my son, have the power to change!”

The night began with a dinner provided by Buttons restaurant in Fort Worth. Participants received baked chicken, spaghetti, black-eyed peas and collard greens with peach cobbler for dessert — what is known as “soul food.”

Buttons’ owner and chief chef Keith Hicks spoke briefly about the term.

“Soul food can be any type of food as long as you are cooking from the soul,” he said.

SE’s jazz band played throughout the evening, directed by music professor Greg Dewhirst. The audience also saw performances by dance companies from South and NW, a poetry segment, a positive soul rap and a storyteller.

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