May 4

Think, Then Speak


In the past few months, I’ve met several inspiring people. Each faced childhood challenges, but they shared a common beacon; a positive word from a parent. Hasan Davis was a juvenile delinquent. His stepbrother and foster brother are serving prison sentences. Mr. Davis is a lawyer. Shanequa Levin was the child of a teen mother with addiction problems and a dad who was in and out of prison. Today, Shanequa is the executive director of Every Child Matters, Long Island. And Whoopi Goldberg – well, I was in an audience, but still – whose single mother understood that her dyslexic child needed something other than traditional schooling. Each of these had a mother who expressed confidence in their hidden gifts. That confidence was the overriding message. Ms. Goldberg said that the word you need to worry about is ‘stupid.’ She’s right. No person will ever forget that cut. But the echo of praise, the echo of someone saying “I believe in you” will be carried in your child’s heart.

Mr. Davis’s website is
The ECM LI website is
Ms. Goldberg’s address was given at the Alex Katz Memorial Lecture on May 3rd, 2016 at Hunter College, sponsored by Child Mind Institute and

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