PATERSON, NJ – The “gentlemen scholars” graduating from Paterson's Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA) got a very special lesson, albeit virtually, in being great from the nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In a recorded message serving as the keynote address, Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., whose mother is Christine King Farris, sister of the assassinated civil rights leader – encouraged the graduating eighth-graders to pursue greatness.

“The only thing you need to be great is the ability to do the right thing, even when no one is watching,” Farris told the students, reflecting on the teachings of his uncle. “If you always do the right thing you will always be great.”

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“Many of these young men aspire to become leaders,” Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer said thanking Farris for the message. “We are all grateful that Mr. Farris imparted his words of wisdom, as well as the wisdom of one of our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders, to the young men. It means a lot to them, and all of us who care about them.” 

Farris also acknowledged YMLA Principal Marc Medley and his educational leadership at YMLA while advising the graduates that they must continue their education, even past high school. Whether it’s a two or four-year college, or a trade school, he said, “high school can not be your last school.”

“Education is not always fun,” Farris said. “But education is necessary.”

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