July 24th, 2008
06:47 PM ET

Hard Times at Douglass High

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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Tony Harris
CNN Anchor

Watching Soledad’s tremendous documentary made me think of a conversation I had recently with Rob Hardy - one of the founders of Rainforest Films (the company behind "Stomp the Yard.”) He was telling me about this amazing documentary he watched recently on our sister network HBO. It was all about Fredrick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

I stopped Rob in his tracks and told him I had an idea what the documentary would be about, not because I'd seen it - but because, for one remarkable year, Douglass was my high school.

What an amazing school it was in the 70's. It boasted the best marching and jazz bands in the city and it provided me with "the moment,” the moment I think about when people ask me where and how I got my start.

Tony Harris at 15! What a sight it was, all legs and Michael Jackson afro with the pick sticking out of it with the Tommy Smith\John Carlos black fist on it? Ha!

I guess it was 1975 and I landed the role of Oliver Twist in the school production that year. Of course, I was a rousing success. I was offered a partial scholarship to train at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory after that performance, but mom was raising two pretty rambunctious kids on her own as a state employee. There was no money for a fancy "conservatory." FULL POST

Filed under: Black in America • Tony Harris