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Cool, soulful beats play in the background as the rap songs, “The B Word,” “Look-N Like a Hoochie Mama,” and “Hand-Lin Yo Bid-Ness” blare from the radio. No, it’s not the latest rap artist on BET’s video countdown. It’s 58-year-old Charles H. Beady, Jr., founder and president of the Foundation for Youth International, an organization that emphasizes global learning, leadership training, and the importance of understanding and appreciating other races and cultures.
Beady uses his rap CD Whatever It Takes: 2 Motivate 2-Daze Youth and poetry book Don’t Be a Fool for Hip Hop (www.drbeady.com) to motivate, lecture, teach, and inspire thousands of youth nationwide and internationally.
Beady has had much success with his organization, which was founded in 2005. “One of the primary objectives of the foundation is to expose youngsters to other people, places, and cultures through traveling the world,” says Beady, the former president of the Piney Woods School, one of only four black boarding schools in the country. “We made sure our students understood that they are just as capable of higher learning or achievement as anyone else,” he says. “In almost all instances, it was never a question of intelligence, but rather one of motivation and preparation.”
“I have always been interested in poetry. When the artists took it and turned it into rap, I knew I could tap into that part of the youth popular culture by putting my messages, which were nothing more than rhyming mini-lectures, to the kind of music they loved to hear,” says Beady. “Much to my surprise, they danced to it, listened to it, remembered, and recited the words to various cuts, particularly “Pull Up Yo Pants” and “Look-N Like a Hoochie Mama.” Beady says the young men in his classes began to pull up their pants. One caller into a radio program he hosted said he inspired her to dress differently after listening to that song.
He credits several teachers with helping him get into the field of education and for stressing the importance of using creative, innovative ways to reach young people. “Mrs. Pettaway, whom we called Ms. Paddle-away, struck the fear of God in all of her students as a strict disciplinarian,” says Beady, who received his undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University. “Mrs. Austin motivated me to read. Mrs. Thompson gave me confidence. Mr. Hendricks uncovered my artistic ability, and Mrs. Crawford made me feel I could succeed at anything.”
He has transferred the message of “You can do anything!” to the youth in his organization. Recently, the foundation took five students on a tour of Europe. The students learned lessons in money exchange, historical sites, and how to keep journals of their experiences.
“Going on this trip was an awakening for me. I never imagined that I would go overseas. Not one or two places, but six. Dr. Beady just puts back so much into the community,” says Aquinta Palmer, 17, a rising freshman at Alcorn State University and member of Hope Springs Baptist Church. “He