May 24, 2021
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
As you know, I truly enjoy your writing. I’ve been chipping away at all of your books and short stories for quite a few years now. As much as I enjoy reading your words, I am equally intrigued by your life and your complicated journey that was often masked behind your work and public persona. As we all know, you can’t judge a book by its cover, which is why I absolutely love reading memoirs. Memoirs give me a sneak peek into someone else’s life. I am a fly on the wall somewhere different. Somewhere vulnerable, somewhere true. Whether I am laughing, crying, learning or relating, memoirs are personal treasures that writers share with their readers. I just finished reading Miseducated: A Memoir by Brandon P. Fleming and my eyes are wide open. I challenge any reader not to be inspired by this fantastic read. Let’s take a look.
First, let me introduce you to the author. Brandon P. Fleming is the Assistant Coach of Debate at Harvard University and the Founder/CEO of the Harvard Diversity Project. The Harvard Diversity Project recruits underserved high schoolers of color from Atlanta to Harvard’s summer residency program with Fleming raising money for their tuition. WOW…right? Fleming may be an award winning educator, but his road to a professional and scholarly life was a rough one to travel. He grew up in an abusive home with little to no role-models. Basketball was his golden ticket into college. Classwork did not come easily for Fleming, so when an injury ended his college basketball career, he dropped out of school. Without an education or skill set to obtain a stimulating job, he worked on an assembly line at a vitamin factory day in and day out returning to his delinquent behaviors. It didn’t take him long to end up in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt. From there Fleming slowly began to grow and discover a whole new world outside of his gangster life. One with possibilities. One with hope. One that he was willing to work for.
Fleming invites his readers into his world with straightforward, powerful words. Through trial and error and being knocked down more times than I can count, he discovers the whole concept of being “miseducated”. If you are raised only seeing Black men become “gangstas”, drug dealers and athletes, then that is what you aspire to be. It wasn’t until Fleming discovered Black scholars, the Harlem renaissance and the power of debate that his life started to turn around. When he realized that he could take his experience and newfound knowledge and help other at-risk kids not only survive, but thrive, he jumped on it. How we teach and connect with learners is just as important as what we teach. Because of his past, Fleming knew how to tap into the young and underserved Black community and he inspired them through the power of debate.
Guts and perseverance fill the pages of Fleming’s memoir from start to finish. His journey encompasses aspiration after so much despair. His story is one that not only at-risk Black kids need to know, but all kids need to know. Watching Fleming rise up was beautiful and quite moving. His enthusiasm for learning shines so brightly in his teaching and his eagerness for knowledge and thoughtful discussion is contagious. Our youth are beyond lucky to have him.
Until next time my friend!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Fleming’s memoir comes out June 15, 2021. Be sure to pre-order it below from your local indie bookstore!