I read two books by Benjamin Carson: "America the Beautiful" and "Gifted Hands," also a movie by the same name - and came away thinking - what a remarkable man. What a remarkable family.
Ben and his brother Curtis were raised in the cities of Boston and Detroit. Their mother, Sonya, came from a large family and was illiterate. Her marriage to Robert Carson failed and she now was the sole parent.
Subsequently, she suffered from bouts of depression that set her back enough to warrant hospital stays. During these periods the two brothers were taken care of by a woman from their congregation. Sonya was very devout and did her best to instill faith in her sons.
At grade school Ben was initially known as a "dummy." This was more to his personality and environment rather than his intellect. In fact, both boys were like many young men then and today, just laying back.
Sonya, seeing in her sons something that others couldn't, took steps to improve their lot in life and escape a dead-end existence. Noticing they were avid TV viewers, she demanded they cut the time watching to two shows a week, read a book, and report to her what they've read. Her friends told her that this will alienate the children they'll hate her run away from home.
Of course, they hollered and rebelled but she was adamant and though unable to read herself eventually had her way. Soon, her boys were achievers in school. This did not make them into angels. In one incident in high school, Ben got in a fight and pulled out a knife and thrust it at his adversary. It broke striking the belt buckle. Ben and the other guy were both shook at this attempt. They booked out. When Ben got home, frightened at what could have happened, he fell to his knees asking God to remove his anger. His devotion and faith helped overcome his failings and he was on his way.
He pursued a medical career and became one of the most noted and awarded neurosurgeons in the country, if not the world. He began the Carson Scholarship Fund for grades four to 11 for intellectual and humanitarian achievements.
His brother, Curtis, became an engineer. And his mother well, in her work as a domestic, she asked her employer, a professor, to help her learn to read - and attained that goal; and is now an independent woman content in knowing how her faith and sacrifice has rewarded the family.
So, get on your computer, or go to the library, and read about this most remarkable family. They're the impossible dream realized.
Ralph Burke is a Dunkirk resident.