Thu04242014

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Shelby County Chapter presents Orita Rites of Passage

 

An invitation into Christian adulthood was the theme for The Leadership Academy Orita Rite of Passage Ceremony presented by the Shelby County Chapter, The Links Incorporated. Special to the Tri-State Defender

An invitation into Christian adulthood was the theme for The Leadership Academy Orita Rite of Passage Ceremony presented by the Shelby County Chapter, The Links Incorporated.


The Rev. Keith Norman challenged the Leadership Academy Fellows to make their ancestors proud by living faithful, productive lives in the midst of hardships and challenges. (Photos by Tyrone P. Easley)


During “The Laying on of Hands,” the Fellow Pilgrims kneeled before the alter, blindfolded to symbolize their unknown future. Family members, beginning with parents and grandparents, came forward and placed their hands on the Fellows’ heads.


Adrian Herenton, son of Andrea Herenton and grandson of former mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton was one of the Leadership Academy Fellows who took part in the culminating ceremony of the program sponsored by the Shelby County Chapter, The Links, Inc.
The ceremony was the culminating activity for 30 young men who participated in the academy.

The Orita ritual originated in African culture and signaled crossroads, maturity, loyalty and readiness to assume the responsibilities of manhood. The Rev. Keith Norman masterfully executed the ceremony held at First Baptist Church Broad, where he is the pastor. He challenged the Fellow Pilgrims to make their ancestors proud by living faithful, productive lives in the midst of hardships and challenges.

“This is definitely one of the most beneficial programs a young black man can be a part of,” said attorney Van Turner, a member of the Academy faculty. “It provides a sense of identity and exposure that is crucial for young men to succeed.”

There was evidence aplenty that the young men were impressed and most appreciative of their experiences in the program.

“The Leadership Academy has taught me how to work many important skills into my life and to make them work for me,” said Fellow William Henderson of Arlington High School. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to participate.”

Caron Byrd, mother of Fellow Jackson Byrd, liked the view from her vantage point.

“The Leadership Academy has been a wonderful opportunity for the young men to meet other African-American males who are positive, mobile and progressive; young men who will have a positive effect on their lives.”

Memphis City Atty. Herman Morris was there to support his son, Fellow Geoffrey Alexander. “The Leadership Academy has provided great exposure for the young men and will have a tremendous affect on their lives,” he said.

The Orita Rites of Passage ceremony (April 17) was the climax of an eight-month life skills program, which included seminars on Work/School Responsibility, Goal Setting, Health and Fitness, Relationships, Financial Literacy, Communication Skills and Work Habits and Time Management.

In addition, the young men participated in cultural activities, including attending the symphony, professional basketball games, Father/Son Brunch, and a trip to Washington, D.C. Community service was also an integral part of the program.

At a glance

The Leadership Academy of the Shelby County Chapter of the Links, Inc. is designed as a life-changing experience to equip African-American males to lead productive lives and make a difference in our community. Link Sandra Reed is president. Links Nina Thornton and Lillian Brown are co-chairs.


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