Note: In a one-on-one telephone conversation with Dr. Carson, Homer Hirt, columnist for the TIMES discussed the background, the accomplishments and the ambitions of one of this country's outstanding citizens. The write-up below is from that conversation.
A child growing up in a single parent home, challenged by dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem would not seem to be a candidate for becoming a physician. However, Benjamin Solomon Carson, Senior overcame each of these barriers to become not only a medical doctor but to be recognized as an emeritus professor of four disciplines at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Children's Center for thirty nine years.
Doctor Carson holds more than sixty honorary doctorate degrees and has received many awards and citations. In 2004 he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President's Council on Bioethics. He is a highly regarded motivational speaker and has been named, in 2001, by CNN and TIME Magazine as one of the nation's twenty foremost physicians and scientists, and was selected as one of the eighty nine "Living Legends" on the occasion of the Library of Congress' 200th anniversary.
Today, here in the TIMES office, Doctor Carson called in to speak of his endowing a Carson Reading Room at Jackson County's Jackson Alternative School, the first such reading room in the State of Florida. He spoke in a low key, and the interviewer had to lead him to talk of his own life, to talk of his past and how he overcame poverty and personality problems, and what he wished for in the future for his country and its citizens.
Doctor Carson led off with "Reading made all the difference in my life". He told how he read all the books that he could acquire, and how reading "changed the person that I was" and, in his home town of Detroit, sent him to seek higher education. He told of working as a lab assistant at Wayne State so that he would have a leg up on his medical school comrades. And he continually returned to the fact that reading had set off his desire and his ambition to succeed in a most difficult discipline.
Then he gave this to the interviewer and asked that it be passed on: "The first twenty to twenty five years of a person's life can be spent either in preparing or not preparing for the next sixty years, and that will determine whether the person will profit and will lead a purposeful life, or will fail".
This man who read and worked and overcame, this man who won honors from presidents and institutions and from his professional peers, spoke with a quiet enthusiasm when he heard the praise offered for the Reading Room and its potential. He was queried about Common Core, and he stated that he favored comparison and standards, but was uncomfortable with a bureaucracy controlling education. He spoke with pride when he told that back in Detroit, a city that is bankrupt and has an air of despondency, Ben Carson High School has been established and appropriately, is a magnet school and even more appropriately, will offer hope to young boys and girls and.....above all......books that will lift them up.