Fred Dukes recently walked the stage to receive his high school diploma from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia. What made this young brotha’s achievement so much sweeter was that he did it while being homeless and without any family support.
CBSAtlanta.com reports that Dukes, who scored a 24 on his ACT and has a 3.0 GPA, had been homeless since December. His mother moved to South Carolina for a job, but he opted to stay behind. Dukes decision meant that he had to live without any family support. Dukes stayed with any friend who had extra space. A close friend of his, Malcolm, allowed him to stay at his place if needed.
(The article did not explain why he stayed behind)
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In December, when he was forced to stay in a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta, Dukes says life got really tough. “I got into an altercation with a couple other people that were staying here and they wanted to take my stuff, my belongings,” said Dukes.
Here is more on how this determined young man made it to graduation day:
Dukes sold candy in the hallways of school to make money – until he was caught. One night he went to meet a friend for a job, but things went bad. Duke’s meeting went longer than expected and as a result, he said he missed the last train at the Lindbergh Marta Station. With no money for a cab and no one to call, he said he did what he had to do. He walked to Oakland City in southwest Atlanta. That’s a 10-mile walk that started at midnight and ended at 3:30 a.m. But he made it to class on time.
“It’s a lot. It’s a lot for an adult, and then to see a child do this? Yes it’s a lot,” said Leyanna Lloyd, Dukes’ science teacher.
“He would just tell me stuff and I would sit there with a straight face and then I would end up crying after he left because he has been through a lot, but he never said he was giving up, ever,” said Lloyd.
Dukes said friendship help him make it through.
“Me and Fred had similar things going on at home that’s bad and good so we could help each other out because we can understand each other’s issues,” said Malcolm Candidate, Dukes’ friend.
Dukes is not the only young person to overcome homelessness in pursuit of his or her education.
NewsOne reported yesterday on a young sista, Eboni Boykin, who earned a full scholarship to Columbia University, despite being homeless for much of her childhood. These back-to-back stories can never grow too repetitive. Just as we see negative, non-stop commentary and reporting about the ills of our community, we have to be as aggressive in highlighting the great feats our young people overcome to realize their goals.
“I am very proud I stuck with it and didn’t give up,” said Dukes.
He plans on attending Coker College in South Carolina in the fall where he wants to major in business. Go Brotha!
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