Born in the late 60’s to a fifteen-year-old mother and an absent father, I was taken in at the age of nine months by my great-grandparents. They adopted me when I was two.
I was precocious as a child, and I’m sure my grandmother would add, quite loquacious. My grandmother took advantage of my inherent learning ability and inexorable desire to talk. She sat me down at the age of two, switch in hand, and began to teach me the story of the creation as revealed in Geneses 1-3. Once I had it committed to memory, my grandmother taught me to recite it passionately. She then took me from church to church, put a microphone in my hand, and made me recite it before the congregation.
My grandmother said she was obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in teaching me the Bible; thank God she did. Although my journey through academia and experience has given me much to anatomize about the Christian faith, the background provided the foundation of discipline that has underwritten my successes.
My grandfather was the one who taught me how to be a man. Born in 1909, he had to stop schooling in the second grade to help his parents, who sharecropped. Because of this, he stressed education and achievement. Though he passed away at the age of 83 in 1992, he is still very much with me. My grandmother passed recently in March 2010 at the age of 92.
I am a proud father of 13, ranging in age from age eight to 37 years old. I consider each one a blessing from God. You will be introduced to each one individually through my writings. My children are a constant reminder of how much God loves me. I do not claim to be a perfect father, but I strive daily to learn and improve.
Thanks to my grandparents, I had a wonderful childhood. I was greatly appreciated for the scholarship and carried the natural gift of athleticism. Throughout school, I put both to use.
I have been blessed both in athletic achievement and in the attainment of academic knowledge. Both have contributed to my advancement in life.
I feel it necessary to mention four people who had an enormous impact on my life. Ms. Geraldine François, my 4th-6th grade teacher. Ms. François was an accelerated learning teacher who saw something special in me and refused to accept anything less than my best. This included my handwriting. She said no one would ever discern the depth of my intelligence if they were not able to decipher my handwriting. To this day, my handwriting is identical to hers, and most women find it humorously unbefitting a man.
Mr. Brewer was my seventh-grade history teacher. He instilled the intrinsic value of self-discipline. Mr. Brewer was a former college instructor who discovered that many college students, especially those of color, were unprepared to take on the transition to a less restricted learning environment. He decided to resign from his position and teach and prepare younger students at the seventh-grade level. Thanks to Mr. Brewer, I found that regardless of ability, one who lacks self-discipline would be overcome by failure. He insisted that obedience, punctuality, diligence, and patience were all keys to success.
Ms. Williams-Leonard, my high school journalism instructor, took an interest in me. She was married to one of my football coaches. She knew that my biological father was not a part of my life and suggested that I write an article on absentee fathers as a way of dealing with the situation. I wrote the article entitled The Invisible Father. Ms. Leonard was instrumental in getting the article published in several publications, including one national publication (Teen Magazine). That article eventually inspired my first book, “The Invisible Father: Reversing the Curse of a Fatherless Generation”, written during my incarceration.
Lastly, Mrs. Dewberry, my eleventh-grade English teacher. Ms. Dewberry had the reputation for being the toughest teacher at the school. Students would literally cry when they received their schedules and found that they would have Ms. Dewberry for an entire year. I took it as a challenge. Within the first week, Ms. Dewberry noticed something within me worth cultivating. As Ms. François, she pushed me. I remember a specific conversation in which she said, “Mr. Wallace, you possess that something special, that intangible asset that will allow you to soar beyond the clouds; you are a young black man with limitless potential. Don’t ever allow anyone to tell you that you can’t. The words “you are not good enough” will never apply to you. Whatever your mind conceives, you will achieve.” I took that to heart. I have been successful in a number of areas, and by the intent of God’s divine purpose for my life, I have only scratched the surface.
There are many more past accomplishments and achievements; however, my focus is forward.
I founded the Odyssey Consortium because there seemed to be an ever-widening gulf between the church and those in need of the power and guidance of the numerous ministries within the church, especially those of color. As I traversed one of the most difficult periods in my life, I found strength and blessings in my struggle. Not only have I drawn closer to my divine purpose, but I’ve also witnessed a spark, the kindling of an enormous fire, the fire of revival. Black men who have been written off by friends, family members, and mainstream society in general are seeking elevation and empowerment with fervency and unparalleled passion, and as our men go, so do we. There is a revival brewing on the horizon.
100 Men of Purpose is special to me. The concept comes from the great revivalist John Wesley. Wesley once said, “Give me 100 men who fear nothing but God and hate nothing but sin and we will change the world.” Wesley ignited the Methodist movement, the greatest revival of his time. I’m looking for men who fear nothing or no one and hate nothing but injustice. I invite you to be a part of this awesome stirring of oppressed people. Be a part of a mission that crosses the lines of religion and culture to engage the desperate needs of the black race in totality. Join us at the Odyssey Consortium as we prepare for The Rise of a Black Nation!