Two students Ron Walker encountered while working as a young teacher in Philadelphia led him to start the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The first, Wendell Holiday, told Walker proudly in his seventh-grade social studies class that he wanted to be president of the United States. A few weeks later, he was killed in gang fight.
The second was ninth grader Kevin Johnson, “another young man of substance, intelligent, personable.” Walker lost track of Johnson after moving to Boston in 1978 to become a principal in Cambridge. Then in 1986, a letter arrived. It was marked with a serial number from the penitentiary where Johnson was imprisoned for life without parole. The two men began a long correspondence that culminated in 2006 with Walker accepting an invitation to speak at the prison’s school graduation.
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