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Black in America 2: Tomorrow's Leaders
Aired February 13, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST (voice-over): From Brooklyn to South Africa, these kids are on a journey that will change their lives.
(on camera): We can't fix the problem because it's so big.
(voice-over): Only 13 black Americans have ever led a Fortune 500 company.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you all want to be a CEO?
O'BRIEN: This man is leading the way -- storming the corner offices of corporate America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: In a struggling school system...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, where's your coat, man?
O'BRIEN: ...he demands the best.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the fastest you can move, sir?
O'BRIEN: Defying the odds and succeeding 100 percent of the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every child who graduates from Capital Prep goes on to a four year college, period.
O'BRIEN: CNN presents "Black In America: Tomorrow's Leaders."
MASSE: And we're walking. My name is La Toya (ph) and this is my hood. I have friends that live here, you know. We party and stuff. They got the greatest hair products. If you can see all the way over there, they've got the best burgers. I like their burgers.
We're going to the Salvation Army. Oh, yes. And Bushwick is that way. But we're going to Bushwick.
JEREMY BAKER: What's up, everyone? My name is Jeremy Baker. I'm 15 years old. And this is where I just hang at. Come over here. I'm going to take you to the basketball courts.
BAKER: And we'll get a shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo!
O'BRIEN: La Toya and Jeremy live around here -- Bushwick, Brooklyn, just five subway stops from Manhattan. Bushwick weathered lootings in the '70s then crack in the 80s. The neighborhood is improving, but wrong choices still litter the streets -- a lure to many teens.
BAKER: This is the Salvation Army in Bushwick right here, as you can see.
O'BRIEN: One right choice is the Bushwick Salvation Army.
MASSE: Hi, Captain David.
CAPTAIN DAVID: Hi La Toya Masse (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, do you want to get in?
O'BRIEN: It's where activist Malaak Compton-Rock, the wife of comedian Chris Rock, has come with a big, bold plan.
O'BRIEN: She's going to select 30 kids, age 12 to 15, and take them to South Africa. She calls it Journey for Change.
Why did you focus on Bushwick, because, I mean, it's kind of, in a way, a classic inner city neighborhood?
It has crime. It has drugs, entrenched poverty.
MALAAK COMPTON-ROCK: A 50 percent high school graduation rate.
O'BRIEN: Is that why?
COMPTON-ROCK: No. These kids come from the Bushwick Salvation Army Community Center. And it is a community center that my husband attended as a child. He really always talked about it being an amazing place and -- and what if he didn't have it.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Malaak believes that the children on these streets limit their dreams and their futures. She wants to expand their horizons -- not by exposing them to a better life, but exactly the opposite. The plan -- two weeks of volunteer work in South Africa's shantytowns, where the poorest of the poor, the country's AIDS orphans, survive.
COMPTON-ROCK: These kids have always been on the receiving end of aid. They've never been on the giving end of service. I think that's going open up their world.
O'BRIEN (on camera): How -- why do you think that is?
COMPTON-ROCK: Because I think it's going to give them confidence. I think they're going to understand that they have something to give. I also feel that travel just gives you a sense of confidence, you know. I mean some of our kids haven't left Bushwick
O'BRIEN: What -- what's your goal for them?
COMPTON-ROCK: I mean, our dream -- the goal is to come back and these kids are going to be our next leaders, our next civic leaders.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Malaak wants her kids, many who live in broken homes or in shelters or in projects, to become tomorrow's leaders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Albert Blun (ph).
O'BRIEN: She wants these kids, whose families were struggling long before any economic crisis, to understand the advantages they do have, to gain confidence, to discover new passion.
COMPTON-ROCK: So I came in and I did orientations to see who wanted to come on the trip. And none of the basketball rec boys wanted to come.
O'BRIEN: Boys like Jeremy, who live for an unlikely dream -- to play in the NBA.
BAKER: After myself, when you're in college, get drafted by Detroit.
JOANNIE RIVERA, JEREMY BAKER'S MOTHER: When he wakes up early in the morning, he's already up.
Jeremy, did you eat breakfast?
No, I'm going to go downstairs and practice.
O'BRIEN: Jeremy says his backup plan is to become a lawyer. But his grades are poor and his focus is all basketball. It's a common dream here in Bushwick and it's impossible for most. Malaak wants these young men to develop attainable dreams. And her persistence pays off.
O'BRIEN: Jeremy overcomes peer pressure and decides to interview for Journey for Change.
BAKER: You know, my friends really wanted to go, but I -- I chose on my own to go.
COMPTON-ROCK: I'm very proud of you. That's powerful.
O'BRIEN: He interviews alongside his mother and stepfather.
RIVERA: Unfortunately, Jeremy's biological dad is not here. He is incarcerated.
O'BRIEN: Jeremy, one sister and a brother, growing up while their father is in prison.
RIVERA: And I know it upsets them, because there's been times, you know, like their graduations, that they -- they wanted their dad there. The letters that the dad sends them, he always writes positive things; you know, be careful; make sure you do the right thing; you don't want to end up like me, you know.
O'BRIEN: Good grades could help ensure better future. But for now, Malaak is not concerned about grades.
COMPTON-ROCK: Why do you want to go on Journey for Change?
O'BRIEN: What she wants is commitment, because the two week journey is just the beginning of a year long program that requires the kids to do additional service and share their experiences with their peers.
How are you?
O'BRIEN: The interview process is difficult for one young man -- Jonathan Severe, another boy who dreams of basketball stardom.
COMPTON-ROCK: Why do you want to go on Journey for Change?
JONATHAN SEVERE: Because you said it's a lifelong -- like you said it was a lifetime like (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: Jonathan barely looks at Malaak and says maybe a dozen words. It's painful to watch.
ANNA JOHNSON, JONATHAN SEVERE'S GRANDMOTHER: He loves basketball. He's very good with drums. He's a well-rounded person, but he's very shy until you get to know him.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Your grandmother tells me you're a little shy.
Is that true?
(voice-over): Keith Norris is Jonathan's basketball coach and mentor. KEITH NORRIS: Sometimes, you know, when kids grow up and they don't get exposed to certain things and sometimes they may not have confidence in certain areas. So that's why sometimes they have a tendency to be introverted.
O'BRIEN: Jonathan's reading and writing skills are also underdeveloped. But his basketball skills are what most kids here dream about. Scouts say he's number two in his age group in all of New York City. Coach Norris worries Jonathan's shyness may make him vulnerable to people who want to take advantage of his talent.
Malaak has similar concerns. So that's why she selects him. She wants the trip to help build Jonathan's self-esteem.
La Toya Masse (ph) has also been chosen to make the journey. She's a creative young woman who loves music and dance and poetry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We're ready for you.
O'BRIEN: At the interview, she impresses Malaak with a poem by Maya Angelou.
MASSE: You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may drive me in the very dirt but still like dust I rise.
O'BRIEN: Latoya's life has been shaped by rough times.
(on camera): Was she in the shelter with you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went to the shelter (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Her mom's disability checks don't always cover the bills.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank god for the government.
O'BRIEN: And the constant uncertainty may explain why tears fall easily -- during the interview and again at her eighth grade graduation, when she fails to win any awards.
MASSE: I failed, basically, two semesters. And I tried so hard, but I didn't get anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's OK. There's no need to cry, sweetheart.
O'BRIEN: How will La Toya hold up in the South African shantytowns, where poverty is crushing and food is scarce; where so many kids who've lost their parents to AIDS are now heads of their own homes?
COMPTON-ROCK: I am concerned about the children and what they're going to see. O'BRIEN: This is the first Journey for Change. And while Malaak has high hopes for success, there are no guarantees.
(on camera): Why do it?
COMPTON-ROCK: You know, I really have a passion for service and for giving back. It's -- it kind of has been a way of life for me. My motto is service is the rent you pay for living.
O'BRIEN: You could solve a lot of those problems with a big old check.
COMPTON-ROCK: No you can't. No you can't. I need the big old check to run Journey for Change. That is for sure. But a check versus this one-on-one mentoring of looking a child in their eyes and telling them that they are special and that I'm proud of them and that they can succeed, a check can't write that at all.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): And it can't give Jeremy new dreams. Nor can it boost Jonathan's confidence or stop La Toya's tears.
COMPTON-ROCK: A question?
O'BRIEN: There are eight weeks for Malaak and her team to prepare the kids. First, there are briefings.
COMPTON-ROCK: There is no change of plane.
O'BRIEN: Paperwork, passports to get.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That was fun.
O'BRIEN: Packing. Even a bon voyage party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Malaak.
O'BRIEN: The day before they leave, the children meet their 30 college age mentors who will travel with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: order of your first name, A to Z. Go.
O'BRIEN: Clothing, books, even computers are distributed. And right away, Malaak begins to draw Jonathan out of his shell...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you get out the BlackBerry for a minute?
O'BRIEN: ...with a book autographed by Barack Obama.
COMPTON-ROCK: And don't you think that that would be a really hard thing for me to figure out, to give the one book signed by Barack Obama to?
Wouldn't that be like difficult? Well guess who's getting it?
You don't know?
You don't know who's getting it?
O'BRIEN: Jeremy gets some special attention, too.
COMPTON-ROCK: Do you have everything you need?
O'BRIEN: He's making the journey with a CNN camera.
BAKER: So, mommy, how do you feel about me going to South Africa?
RIVERA: I'm very excited for you and I'm very proud of you.
O'BRIEN: We've asked several of the kids to record their views of the trip.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to be a leader over there, too.
O'BRIEN: When "Black In America" continues, Jeremy, La Toya, Jonathan and 27 other kids from Bushwick take off on their journey.
But how will they change?
BAKER: I'm going to see kids that are less fortunate for me.
MASSE: Hopefully, when I come back, I'm going to be a pretty different person.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O'BRIEN: After three months of dreaming, interviewing, preparing; after 18 hours, 8,000 miles and a six hour time change, 30 kids whose lives revolve around Bushwick, Brooklyn arrived in South Africa on their Journey for Change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: La Toya, tell me where we are.
MASSE: We're in South Africa.
O'BRIEN: South Africa, where just 14 years before, the country scrapped its oppressive apartheid policies and Nelson Mandela went from prisoner to president.
The kids arrive on a Friday and spend the weekend adjusting.
COMPTON-ROCK: And boys on this side, girls on this side.
O'BRIEN: To the weather. It's winter, not summer.
O'BRIEN: The Zulu language.
O'BRIEN: And to the surroundings. On a bus tour through Soweto...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that was from the year 1953.
O'BRIEN: ...they spot a man who helped dismantle apartheid...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's like (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: ...Nobel Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's really nice. We are very, very lucky to see him.
O'BRIEN: La Toya jumps rights into the experience, at home with all the singing and the dancing. Jonathan begins the journey hood up, eyes down. He can be found outside the action or on the edge with Jeremy.
But soon, a surprising change. After church on Sunday, Jonathan is challenged at an impromptu drum competition. Shy Jonathan, who barely spoke to us in New York, rises to the challenge and performs before 100 people.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You didn't know any of those people. Well, you know some of them. But most of them you did not know.
What was different?
SEVERE: The way they challenged me.
O'BRIEN: Ah. So it's the competition. I think we've hit on the nugget of Jonathan. You like to win. I think I've worked it out. Jonathan likes to win, everybody.
(voice-over): Clearly, the way to get to Jonathan is to challenge him. Here in South Africa, he'll be challenged at every turn.
The volunteer work begins with a gut-wrenching first stop -- an orphanage in Soweto.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see that the (INAUDIBLE) a baby could be found. We've probably got one in the stand there. And, OK, hospitals, toilets, rubbish dumps, the side of the roads, railway tracks.
O'BRIEN: Nearly every child here, age 3 weeks to three years, is either infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The numbers in South Africa are staggering. One out of every five adults is HIV positive and there are 1.4 million orphans from AIDS.
It's in this orphanage where a smiling baby clearly touches Jonathan and where Jeremy, the young man whose father left him for prison, permanently steps from the sidelines.
BAKER: You want a drink?
O'BRIEN: He plays with his parentless little boy.
That afternoon, the Bushwick children are welcomed by aid workers, split into groups and taken to visit several needy homes.
Jeremy is among those to meet 21-year-old Desoto (ph). Her father isn't in the picture and her mother died five years ago, leaving her at 16 to raise a sister and a brother.
BAKER: Is there any needs that you -- that you want?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have enough food?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: Her brother, Taboo, and sister, Taboosi, (ph) are 15 and 17. A local charity pays for their education. Even in schools that don't charge tuition, there are fees and uniforms and supplies to buy.
BAKER: We're going to shopping and then we're going to bring things back to your home.
O'BRIEN: La Toya and Jonathan duck under barbed wire into an alley. They're guarded by police. There they meet Linduey (ph), a young woman who, like La Toya, dreams with poetry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: La Toya.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll keep things (ph).
O'BRIEN: On the wall, Linduey has written: "I need wings to fly to see another world and feel the greatness of being me."
She lives in a series of shacks with her three daughters, age four, one and three months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a bed only. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see, I'm (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She needs a mattress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her poor back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
O'BRIEN: Her grandmother, aunt and 18-year-old brother also live here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need stuff for school?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You need stuff for school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need school supplies. OK.
COMPTON-ROCK: Yes. You need your stationery and you need your books.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
COMPTON-ROCK: And you need your school shoes. So we'll find out how much your -- your uniform is and we'll give that to your granny.
O'BRIEN: No uniform, no school.
COMPTON-ROCK: Can you ask her what are the main food needs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cause they don't have a fridge.
COMPTON-ROCK: OK. So, sugar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's (INAUDIBLE), rice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think canned foods.
COMPTON-ROCK: Canned foods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: No electricity, so no refrigerator for food or light to study by; no running water; no plumbing. The toilet is at the end of an alley.
La Toya knows American poverty. Her mother is raising her on food stamps and government checks. But La Toya understands that it pales in comparison to this.
(on camera): What are you crying for?
Because of all the things they don't have and that you can't do anything about it?
MASSE: You can't really do anything about it.
O'BRIEN: What do you think of this trip so far?
MASSE: I'm not really thinking about anything.
Meaning you're not liking it or you are liking it?
MASSE: Not right now.
O'BRIEN: You're not liking it at all?
MASSE: Not right now.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): This is just the end of their first day of service. They'll have many more.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O'BRIEN: It's across these railroad tracks, down this dusty road, past the laundry and the Port-A-Potty, where Malaak's kids discover a poverty they never imagined.
What do you think is making you so upset?
MASSE: That I can't -- that you can't really get everything that they need.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): So poor, they can't afford the $50 a month for a tin shack. So poor, they can't afford the $28 for a mandatory school uniform or $3 for a bag of potatoes.
(on camera): I always think when you cry it's a sign you've got a really good heart. That's what I think.
(voice-over): La Toya's shopping trip to buy supplies for the orphans she met the day before helps to lift her spirits.
MASSE: Are we going to get this toothpaste or what?
O'BRIEN: And it turns La Toya, who is used to receiving government assistance, into a giver.
MASSE: OK. We got the shoes. O'BRIEN (on camera): So your list is done?
(voice-over): A visit to a club for orphans and vulnerable children helps La Toya's spirit, too, and shows her happiness exists despite the pain. But what really changes La Toya's mind and heart about the trip is returning to Linduey's family with supplies.
(on camera): So what kinds of things did you bring?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We brought (INAUDIBLE).
MASSE: We brought Pampers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like the roll (INAUDIBLE) cushion.
O'BRIEN: Do you hear that, Pampers?
(voice-over): And realizing her giving makes a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Thank you.
MASSE: You're welcome.
O'BRIEN (on camera): What do you think was the thing that they needed the most, if you had to pick the one thing that was the most crucial to go get and then give?
That's a great thing to say. That's so sweet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going. Sit down, right?
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Jeremy, whose heart sank when his father went to prison, now lifts the heart of three parentless youngsters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check it out, man. Look at it.
O'BRIEN: And he does it in his own way...
O'BRIEN: ...basketball shoes from the basketball boy.
O'BRIEN: And after the supplies are stored, it's time for a game of soccer. It's as sacred here as basketball is in Bushwick. Malaak always suspected that Jeremy was outgoing and a leader. In South Africa, he blossomed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's Mopani worms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worms.
O'BRIEN: Yes, worms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. Ouja. Ouji.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to eat it. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ouja ouji.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not eating it.
BAKER: And I wanted to try it. But like when I ate it, I took like three bites. I couldn't swallow it. When I tried swallowing it, I started gagging.
O'BRIEN: But underneath all the bravado, Jeremy is deeply hurt. It surfaces in a massive slum near Johannesburg called Dipslut (ph), home to more than 150,000 people who live in shacks that are stacked to the horizon.
COMPTON-ROCK: I'm sorry that I didn't tell you before he did, because that was my intention.
Jeremy's father sent me a letter. And he's in prison. But I didn't tell Jeremy about the letter. I was going to wait and sit down with him and let him read the letter. But apparently, someone told him. So he came up to me just a second ago.
O'BRIEN: What did he say?
COMPTON-ROCK: He said did you get a letter from my father?
And I was just -- I couldn't believe that he knew. But his father does write him. He doesn't write him back.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Through Malaak, Jeremy's father sends very important messages to his son.
COMPTON-ROCK: I wanted to tell him two of the most important parts of the letter. And I said, your father loves you desperately and your father is so proud of you. And that's when he started to cry.
O'BRIEN: In the midst of helping others, Jeremy gets a little help himself.
(on camera): He was very proud of you, he wrote in the letter. And he said he doesn't want you to be on the path that he was on. BAKER: I know. He tells me that every time I see him. He's like keep it in my head. But I already -- I already got that in my head.
O'BRIEN: How are you going to avoid those same traps?
BAKER: Because I know what's right from wrong.
O'BRIEN: What do you want to do with your life?
BAKER: If I don't succeed at basketball, I'm just going to become a lawyer.
O'BRIEN: Are you a good student?
BAKER: Yes, something like that.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): The truth is, Jeremy doesn't like school. His poor grades do not reflect his intelligence. But he is seeing and experiencing a lifetime of lessons in just two weeks. It could be the motivation he needs to get serious about school and his future.
Jonathan, the young man who expresses himself with a basketball or with drums, discovers a new way to communicate, through photography.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heavy?
O'BRIEN: Jonathan Severe, shy boy from Brooklyn, is at a party with U.S. diplomats wearing CNN gear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here, shy guy.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Who is that. I know who it is. I noticed some of the picture taking. What's that about? Every time I see you, this is you. You shoved me out of the way to get a shot. You shoved me out of the way. What was that about? Why is every time I look over you have a camera in your hand?
SEVERE: I like cameras. I like taking pictures now.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): On an afternoon of Safari, shortly before he leave Africa, we loan the would-be photographer one of our cameras. We want him and the others with CNN cameras to record their lives after the trip.
(on camera): You have two rolls, OK. That's hard work.
SEVERE: My name is hard work.
O'BRIEN: OK, Mr. Hard Work. Good.
(voice-over): Malaak sees changes in every one of her kids.
COMPTON-ROCK: Every dream that I had about this trip has come true. Everything that I want for your life is coming true in this trip. All of you have so much potential. You can be anything that you want to be.
And I'm always here for you. We are family. And I love each and every one of you.
O'BRIEN: Malaak hoped the journey to Africa would teach these kids they have plenty to give, and that they become more appreciative of the things they do have like free school. They all leave with their own version of that lesson.
BAKER: I can't complain what I got. Because you give somebody over here a used shirt, something that you have, they'd be real happy and stuff.
O'BRIEN: For Jonathan, well, a picture's worth a thousand words. As for Latoya --
(on camera): What do you think you take home from this trip?
LATOYA: If you have a big heart and you have courage and, like, if you just are an all-around nice person, then, like, don't be afraid to show who you are. And hopefully, it will take you very far.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Latoya's tears once made her seem fragile. But now it's clear, it's evidence of her compassion. South Africa has changed these kids. Now, the challenge is to make that change last.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): For two weeks, 30 kids from Bushwick Brooklyn journeyed for change. They visited the vestiges of Apartheid, the prison at Constitution Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will also see where Mandela was.
O'BRIEN: Learned the history of black people in South Africa, met families ravaged by HIV and AIDS, met an ambassador.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you. You didn't say your name. Good. Welcome.
O'BRIEN: Played with children who opened their eyes to a different world.
They saw rhinoceros, zebras, impalas. Now, clothes are packed and planes are boarded.
BAKER: Change is over.
O'BRIEN: His trip to South Africa may be over, but Jeremy's journey is just beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Toya! I missed you. LATOYA: I missed you! You don't cry. You made me cry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I missed you.
O'BRIEN: Less than a day after returning home, Malaak Compton- Rock reminds them of their one-year commitment.
COMPTON-ROCK: I will volunteer on Journey for Change projects in my community and/or in the United States.
O'BRIEN: They're now global ambassadors for Journey for Change. And they promise to serve others.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to serve at the food kitchen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe we could have a car wash and raise money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh-huh, your car is mighty dirty, get a car wash.
O'BRIEN: The kids charged seven dollars a car and raised 1,350 dollars to help a six-year-old South African they met in Dipslut (ph). She's seen here on a trip to an amusement park. Her face was severely burned in a fire in her shack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so very sad to have you tell you guys this, her mom passed away last week.
O'BRIEN: The money will help keep Noblebelli (ph) in school. In the fall, once Malaak's kids are back in school, she fills their nights and weekends with charities and service events. At a photo auction where the profits help feed the homeless, they meet comedian Sherrod Small.
And some of the kids exhibit their South Africa photo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Latoya is one of our Journey for Change kids who is actually exhibiting here tonight. How does it feel to be here and have it exhibited in this way?
LATOYA: I feel like a celebrity. That's all I have to say. Come on. Look at me! Look at me!
O'BRIEN: They take a trip to Washington, D.C. to brief Congresswoman Maxine Waters on their journey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the shacks were more than like ten people living in some of them.
O'BRIEN: And even though a number of kids are still in middle school, Malaak takes them on a college tour of Georgetown and her alma mater, Howard University.
COMPTON-ROCK: There's probably nothing that you dream of ever being that you couldn't study at this school. O'BRIEN: Just before Christmas break, Malaak holds a six-month review with the parents and the kids. And for the very first time, she asks to see their grades.
COMPTON-ROCK: I wanted to see if they're applying the things and the lesson that they've learned through Journey for Change. I wanted to see if they're applying that to school.
O'BRIEN: The journey has helped give Jonathan Severe the confidence he needs to succeed outside of basketball.
COMPTON-ROCK: This program really has allowed him to be who he really is. He feels really comfortable. He feels very confident.
O'BRIEN: This shy young man is now self-assured enough to stand in front of 100 people and share the story of his trip to Africa.
SEVERE: The flight from New York was 18 hours.
O'BRIEN: Six months earlier, he barely spoke to anyone.
COMPTON-ROCK: For him, that was huge.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You seemed nervous?
SEVERE: Yes. At the beginning, but then I was reading and I wanted to read more.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): As for his love of cameras?
(on camera): Do you remember in South Africa, how you were stealing all of our cameras to take pictures? Literally grabbing cameras out of people's hands. You haven't shot that much for us, though.
(voice-over): Basketball, he says, takes most of his free time. That hasn't changed. And neither has his grades.
SEVERE: That's a high D. I had a D average. That changes everything.
O'BRIEN: He tells Malaak he's written to all of his teachers promising to do better. If he improves, it could mean a basketball scholarship to a private high school, with top-tier athletics and academics.
(on camera): Is he a success story?
COMPTON-ROCK: He's a work in progress. You know, he must bring his grades up. He must have the ability to read and write at the grade level that he's supposed to read and write at.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): For Jeremy Baker, Journey for Change means accepting and committing to something outside of basketball. COMPTON-ROCK: He really takes his responsibilities to heart.
O'BRIEN (on camera): For journey for change?
COMPTON-ROCK: For journey for change.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): But not for school. He and his mom don't show up for his sick-month review with Malaak.
(on camera): So how are your grades? What's it? Bs, Cs, Ds? Are you failing something? What classes are you failing?
SEVERE: I'm failing math, social studies. (INAUDIBLE)
O'BRIEN: Is it failure that he, six months later, is not -- forget being an A student. He's pretty much an F student.
COMPTON-ROCK: It's not failure. You know why? Because if you're a D student or an F student and you've never been anywhere -- you've never been out of your neighborhood -- there really is no reason for you to try. Jeremy has seen a lot in six months. He's been in another country. He's volunteered. He's been in art galleries. He's walked on college campuses.
But am I looking forward to seeing that next semester? Absolutely. Do I want to see changes? Absolutely.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): She worries that Jeremy is heading down the same path as his father, the man who wrote her from prison.
COMPTON-ROCK: I haven't seen my son in two and a half years. I talk to him from time to time and I write to him, but he doesn't respond. At times, it hurts me. But I always understand. Jeremy and I were always close. So I know my being away must be hard for him. I'm so proud of my son.
And it just goes on and on. It's just really special. I know he wants better for himself. I know that. I just hope that he will apply himself.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Can he do it, do you think?
COMPTON-ROCK: He's definitely bright enough, without a doubt. The question is, will he? I will be really hurt if he doesn't, because it will be such a waste. He's such a good kid. He's special.
So I want to give them the wings to fly, but I can't fly for them. You know? I wish I could. I would.
O'BRIEN: Some like Latoya have begun to soar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes my body shiver just to see her accomplish where she's at.
O'BRIEN: At eighth grade graduation, Latoya cried about failures. Now, as a high school freshman, she is beaming over her 99 in biology, 85s in English and Algebra, and a 90 in global history.
LATOYA: Of course, I want to go to Harvard for their business school. Now, I know what I really want to do in life, and that's like to help people.
O'BRIEN (on camera): And how did Journey for Change play a role in that?
LATOYA: Well, just seeing how people live, living poorly in Africa. And how they -- like how they didn't have the fun activities that I enjoy.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Today, Latoya Massie has a dream, a goal to make a tangible difference in the world around her, and the determination to become a leader for tomorrow.
COMPTON-ROCK: This child has such a beautiful spirit. I mean, she cares so deeply for people. I can't wait to see what she does for this world.
O'BRIEN: Soon, the 30 kids from Bushwick Brooklyn will complete Malaak's year-long journey. The next group of Brooklyn kids begin interviews and orientation this winter. They will Journey for Change to Africa next summer.
(on camera): What's the end goal?
COMPTON-ROCK: To turn them into global citizens. To make them feel like they're part of this world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm feeding a baby.
COMPTON-ROCK: That their life isn't just Bushwick. It's really important that they leave this program with a new sense of confidence that they belong, and to have confidence that they can achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Coming up --
STEVE PERRY, PRINCIPAL: Based upon the evidence, your grades suck.
O'BRIEN: One principal defying the odds.
PERRY: Mr. Carr, you got to be kidding me.
O'BRIEN: -- and demanding the best.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PERRY: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Where's your coat, man? Tough guy. Good morning. Good morning.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Every morning at 7:30, you can find Steve Perry here. He's the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Each and every day, he and vice principal Rich Baganski (ph) greet each student as they walk through Capital's doors.
Steve Perry founded the school four years ago.
PERRY: How are we doing, sir?
O'BRIEN: He has the highest expectations of all his students. It's the Capital Prep way.
PERRY: Those earrings out, please.
O'BRIEN: For Perry, being a principal is all about the details.
PERRY: Mr. Carter, you've got to be kidding me. That's the fastest you can move, son?
O'BRIEN: From uniform inspections.
PERRY: Where's your blazer, son? OK. Having it is not enough, right? Put it on.
O'BRIEN: To morning staff meetings.
PERRY: I know there are quite a few that haven't done curriculum mapping.
O'BRIEN: It all matters.
PERRY: Then keep you mouth shut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't do anything.
PERRY: Just keep it shut.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Why so strict?
PERRY: The details matter.
O'BRIEN: Why? Your shirt tucked in matters?
PERRY: It absolutely matters.
PERRY: Because it's the presentation of yourself.
No one is going to be happier to hand you a diploma than I would be, or more hurt if you don't get one. O'BRIEN (voice-over): And Perry's high expectations --
PERRY: Close the door, please.
O'BRIEN: -- achieve the near impossible, an almost zero percent dropout rate.
PERRY: We have a school designed to send children to college. If we don't send children to college, we're not doing our job.
O'BRIEN: How many of your kids go to college?
PERRY: Well, 100 percent of our graduates go on to college.
O'BRIEN: One hundred percent? Every child who graduates?
PERRY: Every child who graduates from Capital Prep goes on to a four-year college, period.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In the past four years, Capital Prep has graduated 80 students from high school onto college. Nationally, black students are 12 percent less likely to enter college than white students. So how has Steve Perry been so successful at Capital Prep, a school that's almost 85 percent black and Latino?
What we do right is we designed a school that's year-round. We have a longer school day. What we do right is we go to school on Saturdays. What we do right is work hard to get children to a place where they need to be.
O'BRIEN: That place is college.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative 32.
O'BRIEN: Capital doesn't just prep students to college. It literally brings college to its students. The school shares space with Capital Community College, and that brings all kinds of benefits.
PERRY: Looked around and thought we could create an opportunity to send children to college by extending the college's offerings down. We're also in a partnership with them, where we have -- our students are able to take college classes while they're still in high school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt good, going to a college class. I'm like, okay, maybe I am kind of cut out for this.
O'BRIEN: For 18-year-old Gloria Menefee (ph), it was exactly the encouragement she need.
(on camera): Did it make you think you were college material?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did. It did. Every single day. Every day I went to that class, every test we took, every exam, every midterm, and every A, every B, every A, every B. O'BRIEN (voice-over): Instead of advanced placement courses, students can enroll in college-level classes at Capital Community College. It's all part of Steve Perry's strategy for success.
PERRY: What we're able to show a college is that we have a child who has the capacity to do well in college. How do you know? Their test scores don't say that. I can't do anything about the test scores. That was prescribed based on economic, race, all those other things.
So what can you show us? I can show you they can do well in college classes. Here's their GPA from college. We have proof that they can do well in college. That's what they need.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be showing the movie "The Notebook."
O'BRIEN: This semester, Gloria is taking two college classes, film studies and biology.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone has a certain goal, and that goal is to go to college. So when you kind of hear it, it like spreads like wildfire. I'm going to college. No, I'm going to college. No, I'm going to college.
O'BRIEN: But Gloria's biggest inspiration is her principal.
PERRY: Don't need to dance today? You sure? OK.
O'BRIEN: The kids at Capital Prep love Steve Perry.
PERRY: I'm really proud of you. Good job, for real. Good job.
O'BRIEN: Because he understands what many of them face. Perry's own childhood was rough.
(on camera): You were a bad kid?
PERRY: For sure.
O'BRIEN: What did you do?
PERRY: I got kicked out of my preschool. I was kicked out of preschool. You can't get kicked out of preschool. You can laugh. That's all right.
O'BRIEN: Sorry. That's hard to do. What were you doing?
PERRY: Cussing a lot.
O'BRIEN: As a preschooler?
PERRY: Yes, and fighting a lot. By the time I was in third grade, I had to stay back. I had been retained. I had to be a principal at some point -- or prisoner, because I spent more time in the principal's office I think than a principal. It just came to the point where it wasn't cool anymore. O'BRIEN: How many kids at Capital Prep are basically like you. Do you walk down the halls and say, I see me in the kids?
PERRY: What I see is a lot of kids who came from the same circumstance as I.
I grew up in a housing project. I was born on my mother's 16th birthday, the third generation in poverty. There's not a long physical distance between my house now and where I grew up. But they're miles apart in terms of just my lifestyle.
Poverty's character-building potential is far overrated. I hated being broke. We make jokes about government cheese and other government surpluses that we would have, but I didn't like it. I didn't like living like that.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Perry grew up in the Rodgers Road Projects, just outside of Hartford.
PERRY: Of the 100 families who lived in the same project as I did, I'm the only guy I know who went on to college.
That's it right there. Coming here today makes me want to get back to work, do what I do, and give every single kid a legitimate, fighting chance.
O'BRIEN: After earning a bachelor's degree, Perry went on to earn a master's degree in social work and a PHD in education. But it was the lessons he learned early on that helped him with the biggest challenge of his life, opening a school.
PERRY: This is where we played. This is the place where football, baseball, any sport that they could put together, anything that we could play was here. The only way to win was to play longer and harder than anybody else. You let people know that you don't come to lose. So when they told me I couldn't open a school -- every single person told me no, except for the last person. That's all I was looking for, one yes, and I got it.
And for me, that's what I bring. I'm going to play hard until I win.
There are 100 families here, 100 different people, and somehow, some way I got this chance? I'm the one in a position to open a school and provide them with an opportunity. I'm not pulling up the bridge behind me. I'm strengthening it. I'm undergirding it. I'm doing what I have to do to make sure that bridge can be easily traveled by more people.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): When we come back...
(on camera): You sound really angry.
STEVE PERRY, PRINCIPAL, CAPITAL PREPARATORY MAGNET SCHOOL: I am angry.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): ... what makes Steve Perry so mad?
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: In a perfect world...
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: ... no one would dare tell me...
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: ... you're too young to understand, when, in fact...
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: .. when, in fact...
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I understand anger.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I understand pain.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I understand hope.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I understand change.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: So, as it turns out, I'm not too young after all.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's before dawn, and principal Steve Perry is already on the job.
PERRY: What's up, sleeping beauty? OK. I will be there in 15 minutes.
O'BRIEN: Some quick good-byes to his wife and sons, and he's out the door.
PERRY: I wake up at 4:45 in the morning, and I drive kids to school.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You take kids to school?
PERRY: I do.
O'BRIEN: In your car?
PERRY: I have to.
O'BRIEN: You pick them up?
PERRY: Every day.
O'BRIEN: Why? You're the -- you're the principal.
(CROSSTALK) PERRY: I know.
PERRY: I'm the bus driver in the morning, though. And the -- if you walk the walls, I'm picking up papers. I'm a custodian. You do what you got to do to get it done.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): And Perry's students are getting it done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, chief?
O'BRIEN: Connecticut has one of the largest gaps in the country. Black students on average are three grade levels behind white students. But, every day, Perry and the students at Capital Prep defy the numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sweetie, after you finish, it's all set for you.
O'BRIEN: Students like 18-year-old Glorious Menefee.
GLORIOUS MENEFEE, 18-YEAR-OLD STUDENT, CAPITAL PREPARATORY MAGNET SCHOOL: I want to succeed. I want to make it. At the end of the day, it's about me and my goals, and what -- my determination, and my success, and what I want to make my life out to be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a good day.
MENEFEE: Love you, mom.
O'BRIEN: Glorious is a high school senior, a solid B student. She's a cheerleader, a peer tutor, and plays on the lacrosse team, here in downtown Hartford at Capital Preparatory Magnet School.
PERRY: Good morning. Good morning. What's up, party people?
O'BRIEN: Today is the school science fair, a real feat, considering the school doesn't have science labs.
PERRY: They look like them. And we have the stools, and we have the long tables. We don't have any water in them.
O'BRIEN (on camera): There's no Bunsen burners?
PERRY: No, there are no Bunsen burners. I think I saw somebody with a match one day, though.
O'BRIEN: I'm laughing, but it's very dire. How -- how do you do science with no science equipment?
PERRY: I don't know, but we do it, because we have teachers who are willing to get in there and figure out another way to get it done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, so, those are examples.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's public school funding with a prep school attitude. The school is highly sought-after. This year, there are 2,000 kids on the waiting list, hoping to be picked for one of Capital Prep's 40 available seats, 40 seats in the entire sixth- through-12th-grade school.
And, once in, many of these students will have lots of catching up to do.
PERRY: Many of them are reading at three and four grade levels below.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Four grade levels...
PERRY: Four grade levels. So, you figure, sixth grade, many of them are coming in at second-grade level. It's even more compelling when you look at the child that comes in four grade levels below and they're a ninth grader. That means I have four years to get them to college, four years to get them to college.
O'BRIEN: Have you had students who have come in reading as ninth graders at a fourth-grade level and you have sent them to college?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My numbers increase, right?
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENTS: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Steve Perry is convinced that successful schools like Capital Prep can be the norm, but he believes that can only happen with motivated teachers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open your books to page 102, please.
PERRY: We don't have the time to send our children to short school years, so that people can vacation. Our children need more education, not less. They need schools that are more compelling, not less. They need teachers who care more, not less. And we know that education is the great equalizer.
And, so, our children not getting the parts.
O'BRIEN: And his frustration isn't just with the teachers.
PERRY: I'm trying to run a school. And I sure could use more parents at the PTO meetings. We should be in a situation where, if we have 270 students, we have at least 540 parents there.
O'BRIEN (on camera): How many do you get?
PERRY: On a good night?
O'BRIEN: You sound really angry.
PERRY: I am angry. For sure, I'm angry. Do you understand what I'm giving up every single day?
O'BRIEN: For other people's children.
PERRY: I see them as my children.
Hello. Come on, we got to go, got to go. Here, arms, arms, arms. All right. Ready?
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Tonight is a typical night for Steve Perry.
PERRY: Oh, man.
O'BRIEN: Picking up his two sons, Mason (ph) and Walker (ph).
PERRY: You didn't see me this morning wake you up, Mason?
O'BRIEN: Meeting his wife Lalani (ph), so she can take them home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love you.
PERRY: Love you, too.
O'BRIEN: Then on to the football game to support his other kids.
PERRY: Good luck, sir.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Do your parents do enough?
PERRY: No. No, they don't. What really hurts me is when we have senior night, and I look up into the stands, and most of the adults that I see are faculty members.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: Run, Michael, run! Run! Go, go, go.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Perry is used to the empty stands, and so is Glorious.
MENEFEE: Kids kind of look to him to kind of be that fatherly figure. You know, you look in the stands, your mom and dad is not there, but there's Mr. Perry, you know, the principal.
O'BRIEN: At one point, school was the last thing on Glorious Menefee's mind. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative 33.
O'BRIEN: By age 15, she was considering dropping out. Then she enrolled in Capital Prep.
MENEFEE: Before Capital Prep, my main focus was just getting out the house, just getting my GED, getting an apartment, and just going, just going, just going.
O'BRIEN: She wanted out from a home where her parents' addictions meant chaos.
MENEFEE: I would joke around and say, I have the best of both worlds, meaning I had a mom who was a drug user and a dad who was an alcoholic.
O'BRIEN: Glorious' mom, Susan (ph), was on crack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used crack cocaine for 11 years, 11 years, 11 horrible years. In the beginning, it was a recreational thing, a suppression thing. And then it became a way of life for me.
O'BRIEN: Susan went to prison when Glorious was just 14.
MENEFEE: I always felt alone. I always felt no one understood me. All these feelings that I have had, these mixed emotions that I have had, was being without my mom. So, it is definitely unfair at times, but you -- you just learn to kind of accept it, and just you go on, move on.
O'BRIEN: Glorious and her younger brother, Cory (ph), were left to be raised by their grandmother, who worked full-time, and their father, Ernie (ph), whose drinking increased and whose temper grew worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a -- what you would refer to as a verbal abuser, as far as when my drinking would happen, if I became upset. At one time, I thought my kids didn't like me because of my drinking. A lot of times, my kids would tell me things that I said to them that I really didn't remember saying, and I think that was more hurtful than anything.
MENEFEE: When my dad is sober, you see how much of a good person he could be. And, then, in a split-second, or within an hour, you see this ugly side of him. And it -- that's the hardest part, maintaining and -- and juggling that emotion, like, how do I approach him?
PERRY: I often say to the children, you have to play hurt. You want to sit? You want to cry? Then, when you're done crying, guess what is going to happen? Nothing. Nothing's going to change. But you and I can work on something that's going to change it.
O'BRIEN: Steve Perry and Glorious have been working toward this moment since Glorious first entered Capital Prep's doors, her first college interview.
PERRY: Talk about what you do well. Focus on the best that you have to offer.
PERRY: Let them know you're a hard worker, which you are.
PERRY: Let them know you're a considerate person, which you are, and that you're going to take very seriously your study of social work.
O'BRIEN: Now it's all up to Glorious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Glorious?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Jordan (ph) with Post (ph) University.
MENEFEE: Hi, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you.
MENEFEE: Nice to meet you, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. (INAUDIBLE) Nice to meet you.
MENEFEE: Nice to meet you, too.
O'BRIEN: Next, Glorious' fate is decided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to interview you, ask you some questions.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Glorious Menefee is nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK?
O'BRIEN: She's in her first college interview, and the outcome could change her life.
MENEFEE: Glorious has a lot to say...
(LAUGHTER) MENEFEE: ... about the struggles and obstacles that I have gone through throughout the years while attending Capital Prep.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What program are you thinking about going into? Do you have any idea?
MENEFEE: Social work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Social work.
MENEFEE: Hopefully, social work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why are you choosing that path in your life for social work? What -- what is drawing you to that?
MENEFEE: Because of a personal experience.
Social workers were in and out of my life all...
MENEFEE: ... all my life, basically. When I'm looking back on it and realizing a lot of things, they actually were there to help me. I will consider them saviors. Social workers are saviors.
O'BRIEN (on camera): How so?
MENEFEE: They were kind of hope. They were very hope. Like, just looking at them being there was kind of, someone cares.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Hope she wants to share with others.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... drawing you, and you have that passion?
MENEFEE: Definitely, yes. I want to work with children and families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, good for you. I'm going to take a moment with Summer (ph).
MENEFEE: Would you like me to step out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, if you could, please. And then we will bring you back in and see what we can do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right?
MENEFEE: Thank you.
(CROSSTALK) MENEFEE: Thank you so very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Now all Glorious Menefee can do...
MENEFEE: Oh, gosh.
O'BRIEN: ... is wait.
MENEFEE: I need this, too. I need to get in.
I hope I get in. Oh, my God. Because I have worked hard.
O'BRIEN: Glorious peeks inside and sees her college counselor meeting with the Post's staff.
For Glorious, the wait seems forever.
MENEFEE: Oh, gosh. I'm about to cry.
MENEFEE: Oh, man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. You're going to go back in. They're going to ask you a couple more questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to be completely honest with them...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... as honest as you and I know about you and your situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they will go from there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) shadow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You all right?
MENEFEE: Yes, I'm OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not going to pass out on us?
MENEFEE: No, no, no, no, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, a couple more questions for you.
O'BRIEN: And a few more questions about why Glorious' grades dropped during her sophomore year.
MENEFEE: OK. Sophomore year, that is when the physical abuse kind of started, and took its toll from my dad, from his alcohol abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it took a toll on your...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... schoolwork?
MENEFEE: Yes, on everything.
I intercepted a blow from my dad.
O'BRIEN: Abuse Glorious wrote about when applying to college.
MENEFEE: "It was, to me, a normal thing, dad drunk, and my brother and I trying to avoid him, which seemed almost impossible. He pounded us with insults, intimidation, and then the fight. I grabbed the phone and called 911."
O'BRIEN: Despite desperately wanting to leave her home, the bond she shared with her brother Cory kept Glorious there.
MENEFEE: "I will never forget the promise I made to my brother that day. I will always be there to protect him."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going out on a limb here. I'm going to -- I'm going to give you an accept. We're going to make it happen for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK? Don't get upset. I'm going to get emotional.
MENEFEE: OK. Oh, gosh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did good.
MENEFEE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
MENEFEE: Thank you so very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right?
MENEFEE: Oh, man. Whew. Oh, man. Oh. They're giving me a way out.
O'BRIEN: For Glorious Menefee, this is a dream come true.
For principal Steve Perry, this is his job.
PERRY: You can't cry, because it will mess up my clothes.
MENEFEE: OK. I won't cry.
MENEFEE: Anymore, right, anymore. Oh, Mr. Perry. Oh.
PERRY: Call your mother.
MENEFEE: OK. Call my mom. Have to call big Susie.
Mom, guess what? I got in.
OK. I'm getting ready.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is it. This is the day you waited for, for so long. I love you. And I'm so proud of you.
MENEFEE: I love you too, dad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, get yourself ready before your mother has a panic attack.
O'BRIEN: Today, the Menefees are reunited as a family. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What time is the ceremony?
MENEFEE: Six o'clock.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Do you ever feel that you have to push your parents out of your way to be successful?
MENEFEE: A lot of the times, I do, and it's hard, because it's, like, I want my mom there. I have had, like, most of my childhood in ninth and seventh grade without her. So, like, now, I'm, like, I want her there, but I kind of have to have my own path.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glorious Ashley (ph) Menefee.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In addition to Post University, Glorious was accepted to three other colleges.
PERRY: I'm very proud of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Glorious!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Glorious!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glorious!
PERRY: It is now my distinct honor to tell you to turn your tassels.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O'BRIEN: Glorious Menefee is part of Capital Prep's legacy of sending 100 percent of its graduates on to college, 100 percent of every class every year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Southern Connecticut State University.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) University.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delaware State University.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Loyola College.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American University.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Post University.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American University.
MENEFEE: And I'm going to Central Connecticut State University.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
O'BRIEN: When we come back: They're privileged and well- connected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my teachers in my class actually called me a nigger.
O'BRIEN: But money is no shield from racism.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I'm a black teenager.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: And I have something to say.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I'm only young right now.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: I'm only a child today.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: But, soon, I will be a leader in this world.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: Soon, I will be writing this story. I may look like a child.
UNIDENTIFIED YOUTH: But my mind is so much more.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): This is black America, and this is black America.
BERTRAM LEE, HAVERFORD COLLEGE FRESHMAN: I'm very aware and conscious of my color in society.
O'BRIEN: Bertram Lee a freshman at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Tuition is $38,000 a year. The school boasts four Nobel laureates, and students play croquet on manicured lawns.
In a student body of nearly 1,200, there are 98 blacks. Even in this idyllic setting, Lee feels the tensions of race in America.
LEE: Sometimes, you wear fitted hats. You don't wear it straight like a baseball cap. And they are like, "Don't be offended, but, you know, are you a thug or a gangster or something?"
I'm like: "What? I look like Carlton Banks."
O'BRIEN: His grandfather was a prominent judge in Baltimore. His late father, a businessman, co-owned the Denver Nuggets. His mother is a top lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Lee says, she instilled in him a love for his race. LEE: Black is beautiful, man. Black is beautiful. People don't say that enough.
O'BRIEN: Bertram Lee is black and affluent in America. He says that means he straddles two worlds and two sets of expectations. From blacks, he hears:
LEE: "You're rich. You're a rich boy. You don't understand anything about what we go through or what the struggle is."
O'BRIEN: And from whites:
LEE: "You're either an affirmative action case or you're here because you're playing a sport."
O'BRIEN: Dr. Carlotta Miles has known Bertram Lee all his life. She's a renowned psychiatrist in Washington, D.C.
(on camera): Do you think most Americans have no clue that privileged, wealthy, well-connected black people exist in decent-sized numbers?
DR. CARLOTTA MILES, FOUNDER, TUXEDO BALL: We're invisible.
MILES: Because we don't match the stereotype. The stereotype for black Americans is poverty, failure, victimization, and mediocrity.
O'BRIEN: These are great.
(voice-over): Dr. Miles, a mother of three, emphasizes success in her home with a family hall of fame. The hall is covered with photographs dating back to the 1850s.
MILES: That's my dad and his colleagues. These are all doctors. And that's grandpa Henry, basically made a fortune before the Civil War.
This is my beloved, beloved grandmother.
These people all had graduate degrees at the time when most people didn't have a college degree.
O'BRIEN: Achievements made despite the racism that existed then and now.
MILES: This was our 23rd year.
O'BRIEN: Twenty-three years ago, Dr. Miles created the Tuxedo Ball...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So nice to see you again.
(LAUGHTER) O'BRIEN: ... a place for privileged black children to mingle and make professional connections. Bertram Lee (ph) believes it will help his future political career.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could find yourself a job, internships, opportunity, advice. You're talking to people who generally are amazing at what they do. They're successful. It's so hard to find that, especially being out in the world.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You have to be black and you have to be wealthy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't have to be wealthy. You just have to be a part of the group.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Affairs like these exclude many, says Darren (ph) Walker, a vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation. He's spent his career studying race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people in the African-American community react angrily, because one part of our community seems quite comfortable adopting the exclusive practices of the majority community that for many years kept us out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think the Tuxedo Ball should be vilified. It's doing something for the privileged children who people think don't need anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they see is exclusion. What they see is elitism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of us are tremendously active doing things for needy children, as well.
O'BRIEN: That afternoon before the gala...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are several black cultures.
O'BRIEN: ... a day of seminars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I don't believe in myself, how can I convince you to be my girlfriend? How can I convince you to give me a job?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Report together.
O'BRIEN: In a seminar called "Pathways to Leadership," Bertram Lee (ph) spoke about his elite New England high school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had many issues with diversity. One of my teachers in my class actually called me a nigger in class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, "Mom, there was an incident. One of the teachers used the 'N' word in the classroom."
O'BRIEN: Lee's mother, Laura Murphy (ph), was hurt. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sense of anguish you feel when your child has that hurt sound in his voice, and I was really pleased when he told me that he was going to organize a forum at the headmaster's house.
O'BRIEN (on camera): What's the lesson in that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do something. Do you let it in? Do you let them tell you who you are? No.
O'BRIEN: That evening, the big event. It's a magical night with historic precedent: from W.E.B. Dubois at the 1910 Midwinter Assembly, to Carlotta "Buffy" Gordon, now known as Dr. Miles. Affluent blacks have been passing on the legacy of success for well over 100 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the Tuxedo Ball reminds me personally is that you cannot settle for mediocrity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We mobilize our kids to go out and make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My idea of blackness may not be what society says or what other people say blackness is. I can't help that I was born in the place that I was born in. I can only hope to make the world a better place from that.
O'BRIEN: Coming up, she owns a home, a car and makes $77,000 a year. Why is she walking away from it all and taking the risk of a lifetime?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not about a job. This is about changing the game. It's high-profile.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Mia (ph) Jackson is joined by 200 others, poised, clad in business attire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am tired of people thinking that black and brown people cannot change the world.
O'BRIEN: Boot camp. Three, long, hard, stressful days.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably the most trying day of my little life.
O'BRIEN: And nights.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to leave at 6:15 tomorrow to get on the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What? O'BRIEN: Fortune 500 companies across Manhattan, where Mia (ph) Jackson will be closely watched and scrutinized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've got to shine; you've got to always be on.
O'BRIEN: Mia (ph) lives in Atlanta, Georgia. By any measure, she's a success. At 26, she owns a home, a car, and earns $77,000 a year as an engineer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew that an engineering degree was going to be financially stable when I got out of college.
Chemical engineering is the most versatile out of all of the engineering disciplines.
O'BRIEN: She's a project manager at Zep (ph), a chemical manufacturing company with over half a million dollars in revenue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being young and then being a woman on top of that, sometimes it's a little rough in the beginning.
Just trying to demand the respect that I think I deserve.
Working at Zep (ph), I've had a lot of great opportunities.
O'BRIEN: But she's also experienced roadblocks and frustration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't see what my next step was, and I had no one to help me see it. And that was what was challenging.
O'BRIEN (on camera): You were worried?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't want to get pigeon-holed as that engineer, and stay doing project management my whole life.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): In taking charge of her own career, Mia (ph) Jackson is making the riskiest move of her life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm quitting my job. I'm quitting, you know, having income, and in two years, maybe we'll still be struggling as an economy.
O'BRIEN: She's about to walk away from everything she has for an 18-month program created by this man, John Rice.
JOHN RICE, FOUNDER & CEO, MLT: We have under-representation of minorities in corporate America in the nonprofit world. Yes, we do; we need to solve that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir? How are you? How is everything going?
O'BRIEN: Rice is creating a new generation of leaders by preparing Mia (ph) Jackson and others for top executive positions. Consider this: in the 54-year history of the Fortune 500, there have only been 13 black CEOs.
(on camera) Is it racism?
RICE: No, at this point it's not. There are pockets of discrimination and so forth, but this is a more subtle, more challenging, I think, to address.
O'BRIEN: The challenges: blacks need access to mentors, connections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you.
O'BRIEN: And business skills not taught in the classroom.
RICE: You really need to think about whether the skills, relationships and experiences are going to enable you to have a compelling story.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Most people think come in early, stay late, put your head down, focus, that's 90 percent of it. And then 10 percent is those other things.
RICE: That math is way off.
RICE: It's not even 50/50. It's probably 70/30 or 80/20, key ingredients versus what you learn in the classroom.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): John Rice (ph) began learning these ingredients early on. His father Emmett (ph) was the governor of the federal research system.
RICE: He told me, you know, I learned that you have to have economic power to change the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite picture of Johnny is...
O'BRIEN: His mother Lois was a corporate executive. She passed on this lesson about being black in America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I raised my children to understand that you can never use race as an excuse, nor should you ever use it as an advantage.
O'BRIEN: Today John's sister, Susan Rice (ph), is U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He was an executive with the NBA, but left to serve others in his innovative organization, Management Leadership for Tomorrow.
MLT teaches a series of prescribed steps. Step one: know your story.
RICE: Introduce yourself, talk to us, who are you? Convince this group that you have the juice.
O'BRIEN: Step two: articulate your goals and passion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm most passionate about empowering others.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A networking opportunity.
O'BRIEN: And step three: build important relationships.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to get to know you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you want to be an entrepreneur.
O'BRIEN: That's what Mia (ph) Jackson has been doing for the past 18 months in MLT's MBA prep program. Now, she was one last hurdle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walking down to the subways.
O'BRIEN: When we return, the stress and the pressure of boot camp.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Mia (ph) Jackson is determined to reach the top of corporate America, but first she must make a drastic career move.
(on camera) You own a house?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: You own a car?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: You have some bills?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
O'BRIEN: You are quitting your job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: In a down economy. Aren't you taking a giant risk?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is definitely a giant risk, but I'm excited about it, and I'm ready for that next challenge.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): One final challenge before Mia (ph)'s MLT journey ends. Four rigorous days in the rain, around-the-clock training, crash courses in consulting, entrepreneurship and investment banking, where Mia (ph) must quickly digest information she's never studied. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After my liquidity concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Equity capital markets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Priced by volume.
O'BRIEN: Then present business recommendations to top corporations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Performance and purpose is our vision for a better tomorrow.
O'BRIEN: First, an introduction to the company.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Pepsi-Co.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Pepsi-Co.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are Pepsi-Co.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It starts with a strong brand position.
O'BRIEN: Next, Marketing 101. Mia (ph) makes an impression.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, it's the same orange juice you were making yesterday; you're just marketing it to a different consumer?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great question.
O'BRIEN: Today's challenge: in 90 short minutes, create a new, organic product, along with a marketing strategy. Teams will be judged on innovation, creativity, and how they target the consumer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking about, like, ice-cream sandwiches.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice-cream-based dessert, like a layer of fruit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are we targeting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always back to the woman, because in the promotion, you can always leverage the other family member.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our new families are very health conscious.
O'BRIEN: But Mia (ph) and a teammate don't agree on strategy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we should also be very specific in terms of who we're marketing it to.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't you think that was -- let's say this was a real product. We're going to lose some leverage? Because now we only have this specific one person that can buy it.
O'BRIEN: Who's right? The judges will decide. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no wiggle room. So I'm going to do a time check.
O'BRIEN: Mia (ph)'s team is losing precious time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got soy.
O'BRIEN: And still needs to name their ice-cream sandwich.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a play on ice cream?
O'BRIEN: The theory is this high-level exposure will make Mia (ph) more competitive in graduate school and in life.
RICE: The corporations that recruit our folks are setting a very high bar for excellence. We've got to work them to that bar, so it's natural for them to meet that bar and exceed it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what we've got. Anything else we need to add while we've got five seconds?
O'BRIEN: It's time to present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One little snack, energize for the day.
O'BRIEN: And all the MBA prep fellows have one thing on their mind...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're targeting the heavy hitters.
O'BRIEN: ... winning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're all kind of Type A personalities here.
ADAM HARPER, FELLOW, MLT: I think we came up with a new product that will shock the market.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our product is called Sweet Retreat.
O'BRIEN: Next, does Mia (ph) Jackson have the right stuff?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to focus on this is all-natural fruit.
O'BRIEN: It's taken Mia (ph) Jackson guts and hundreds of hours of preparation to get to the last stages of her Management Leadership for Tomorrow program, and to this moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So our product is called Sweet Retreat. It's for the health-conscious professional woman, and we want her to be able to give it to her children and have them have a healthy snack.
O'BRIEN: Her team is facing the scrutiny of judges from Pepsi- Co, a potential employer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you going to balance getting tastes that are very much for her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to focus that this is all-natural fruit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Part of it is positioning it well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The concept of ice cream, I think they're going to love it.
O'BRIEN: Group one's presentation over, now they must watch and wait while six other groups present their products.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, I'm Latika (ph) and Christina (ph), and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is definitely for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Typical energy bars, that doesn't cut it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all natural. It's so good I'm only going to drink half of it.
O'BRIEN: The judges meet behind closed doors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Sweet Retreat group, what did you guys think about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost wish they had focused on just about the woman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a better idea. I thought two just headed back to the consumer so well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm between one and two.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what it came down to was who really understood the consumer. And we thought group two did that the best.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was disappointed. I think we did well as a team.
O'BRIEN (on camera): John Rice has told me that he likes scrappy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
O'BRIEN: So what's scrappy? And are you scrappy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I am scrappy, and I think it's having that -- that tenacity that nothing is going to get in your way and that you're going to be determined to achieve your goals.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): MLT is the No. 1 source of minority candidates for several corporations, partnering with top companies like Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my pleasure to introduce Dick Parsons.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got to meet so many people who were at the top of their games. Dick Parsons, chairman of Citigroup. And we were able to learn and we were able to grow from them.
O'BRIEN: Since founding MLT, John Rice has helped 1,700 others pursue their passion.
RICE: That's our very first mogul. Our highest level membership.
O'BRIEN: Coaching aspiring entrepreneurs, like Shaun Hayward (ph) and Cooley Walker (ph), who now own a successful business called Mr., an upscale barber shop/wine bar in San Francisco, California.
Rice also opens doors to careers outside of business, including music. In 2002, John Stevens left his job as a management consultant to work for John Rice at MLT.
JOHN LEGEND, MUSICIAN: He introduced me to some of his friends, lawyers, and A&R execs. He's always willing to share his network. That's one of the great things about him.
O'BRIEN: Today John Stevens is John Legend. At the top of his game, he's a six-time Grammy award-winning artist.
LEGEND: I care a lot about education. I care a lot about poverty, and I'm in a position now where I can help influence the world.
O'BRIEN: And this is the ultimate goal of MLT, empowering future leaders like John Legend, Cooney (ph) Walker, Shaun Hayward (ph), and Mia (ph) Jackson to be successful and give back to their own communities.
RICE: We've to have a broader generation of minorities who have skills, and the experience and the commitment and hopefully the capital to go out into their communities and have real impact.
O'BRIEN: Mia (ph) begins her MBA program this fall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was accepted to Kellogg, Columbia, Wharton, Emory.
O'BRIEN: Her choice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellogg.
O'BRIEN: At Northwestern University, ranked No. 3 in the nation. Although she's graduated from MLT, MLT will always be there for Mia (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will hold you, other people will hold you until you are steady on your own. Then we will do great things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be unstoppable, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
O'BRIEN: Mia (ph) Jackson endured an 18-month pressure cooker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. Go and do good things.
O'BRIEN: She's emerged confident.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for the opportunity, MLT.
O'BRIEN: And focused on her road map for success. Then her ultimate goal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having a business and passing it on to my children.
O'BRIEN: For John Rice, Mia (ph) is a success story. One of 1,700 and counting.
RICE: How many of you all want to be a CEO? Let's go make it happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of you have so much potential.
O'BRIEN: Tonight we met those creating the next generation of black leaders. Tomorrow: she's an oncologist tracking a mysterious killer, cancer, to Africa and back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a tremendous opportunity to make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?
O'BRIEN: He's a doctor, saving the lives of black men, one haircut at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: HIV is preventable.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Does this street have a name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-Fourth Street, as in "Miracle on 34th Street."
O'BRIEN: And this man went from homeless to media mogul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's get it, guys.
O'BRIEN: And he's beating Hollywood at its own game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He who has the gold makes the rules.
O'BRIEN: They're all pioneers, creating innovative solutions. "Black in America" continues tomorrow at 8 and 11 p.m.