2003-02-15 / Community

Saluting Black History Month


Minister Sheila R. SmartMinister Sheila R. Smart The ‘My Icon’ Series
Community Youth Reflect on Those Who Inspired Them
By Gary G. Toms

The Wave is proud to present this latest feature in our annual salute to Black History Month. In this installment, we are shedding the spotlight on three young people from the Far Rockaway community, as they share their thoughts on the black icons that left an indelible mark on their lives.

Shy Angela Collins

The person that has had an influence on my life thus far is Minister Sheila R. Smart. Minister Smart is the assistant Vice President of the Money Transfer Division at Deutshe Bank. She is also an ordained minister, a Youth Coordinator, a Sunday school teacher and a Choir Director at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Rockaway. She is a very intellectual, responsible and respectful person. Self-control isn’t an issue when it comes to this individual; in situations where many people have lost their composure, she keeps her composure.

She is very careful and concerned when it comes to the souls of the youth of today. She has influenced me in many ways, but the one thing that has had the most impact on me is her spiritual guidance. She is an influence in my life because she uses the bible as a road map for her life.


Sean "P. Diddy" CombsSean "P. Diddy" Combs

I look to Minister Smart as my spiritual advisor. There are things that she does that I myself would like to do. She takes the time out to see how I am doing whether it be good, bad or indifferent. When I have done something wrong or something that just isn’t in my character, she does scold and chastise me. I know that it is out of pure love and care for my soul.

Although I have done some things that have disappointed her, she has never spoken negative concerning me or turned her back on me, like others that I have encountered. She has always showed me love.

If there were an award to be given for the most influential person in my life, (other than my mother and a few other individuals) the award would definitely go to Minister Sheila R. Smart.

Jonathan McDonald


Marcus Garvey (pictured in uniform)Marcus Garvey (pictured in uniform)

I chose to write about Sean "P. Diddy" Combs because he’s a celebrity that’s doing what all other black figures inspire to do, influencing young black youths. As a young black youth, he gives me inspiration to stay in school and out of trouble. What I learned from him is that if I put my mind to something and work hard enough, I can succeed. Combs marched in front of City Hall to show his support when the Mayor cut city school funds. That act showed that he cares about people.

Combs grew up with just his mother in Harlem, where he found out that he liked to dance. That’s when he decided to go to numerous record companies to see if his talent can be used. After he was turned down several times, he kept on trying until he was accepted. That showed me no matter how many times you get turned down, you should never give up. He worked hard at making music until he created his own record label and became an entrepreneur, who now has his own clothing line. Because of his tenacity he became successful, proving that if you work hard anything can happen.

I chose "P. Diddy" as my icon because he’s a perfect entrepreneur. He knows how to make money and most of all he knows how to dress. He influenced me to be something like him. He’s different from other CEO’s because he has a street style, yet still manages to run his business professionally. I learned that you could be cool, keep your personality and still run your own business and make money. I have acquired the knowledge of knowing how to run your own business, and someday I want to run my own business the way he did. I would handle it just like he handles Bad Boy Records. Not only does he know how to run his business, he also knows how to host and perform shows.

"Diddy" can add flavor to any video by dressing in various styles. He’s involved in all details of what he’s doing, from clothing to videos to movies and even award shows.

Jeffrey Delerme

When I face a challenging situation and feel as if my back is against the wall, I often look to the life and works of Marcus Garvey for inspiration. He was a passionate individual who possessed the ability to motivate others and carry through on his proposed actions. One of Garvey’s greatest accomplishments was founding the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to represent the needs of Blacks around the world. He also envisioned a ship company named the Black Star Line.

The purpose of the Black Star Line was to bring people of African ancestry back to Africa, where they would help rebuild and restore the motherland. I admire Garvey’s dedication to helping others, and I try to emulate his zealous character in my everyday life.

Marcus Garvey’s strong personal convictions were strengthened by the fact that he was a God-fearing Christian. Garvey was well versed in the Bible and realized that none of what he was doing went against the Divine Word. Garvey showed me that even when the world seems to be set up against you and everything goes wrong, it is important to keep your faith in the Creator. Some loved and admired Garvey for staying true to his beliefs, while others hated and feared his confident nature. Despite how people felt about Garvey’s personality, they must have respected him for his intellectual aptitude.

Forced to deal with a nation unsympathetic to the needs of the Black race, Marcus Garvey overcame adversity and created a movement that revitalized the Black community.

As a leader, Garvey symbolized strength in the face of hardship and understood the true spirit of independence. He comprehended the United States Constitution in a way that many people of his time had yet to appreciate. Determined to see Africa and the Africans around the world returned to a position of glory, Marcus Garvey sacrificed his life and dedicated his work to the advancement of the Black community. In today’s self-serving society, we should take a cue from Marcus Garvey and dedicate more of our efforts to improving our fellow man.


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