LIMA — A Harvard-educated lawyer who grew up in Lima discussed the power of voting and the importance of academics Saturday night at the local NAACP’s second-annual Freedom Fund Banquet, which serves as a fundraiser for the organization’s scholarship program.
Jonathan Hollingsworth was raised on the south side of Lima, and attended the city’s public schools until he graduated from Lima Senior High School in the mid-1970s. After graduating, Hollingsworth obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his law degree from the University of Michigan. Today, he runs his own law firm in Centerville.
Hollingsworth said he grew up in poverty, and that despite his circumstances, he was able to achieve success through education and preparing himself for opportunities.
“If you want to change your circumstance in life, then you’ve got to educate yourself,” Hollingsworth said. “I can safely say I took advantage of public education, and I took advantage of what God gave me, which was the opportunity to learn and then go out and actually achieve what I wanted to do.”
He said the problem for many young people who grow up in poverty is they don’t have a support system in place. Even without a support system, Hollingsworth said young people can still achieve their dreams if they have a desire to do so.
“Even if your friends don’t want to go to school and get an education, you should,” he said. “It’s your life, and it’s your education that matters.”
Part of education is being informed, Hollingsworth said, which is why he believes it’s important that people pay attention to what’s happening locally, throughout the United States and abroad. He said this is especially important in an election year.
“If you want your voice to be heard … you need to get out and vote,” he urged the crowd.
Hollingsworth’s emphasis on education and the importance of being informed seemed like an appropriate message on a night dedicated to helping young people reach college.
The Rev. Ron Fails, president of the Lima NAACP, said they hope to award five $500 scholarships to local graduates this spring. Last year, the local chapter of the NAACP awarded two scholarships. One of those award recipients was James Moore, a 2015 graduate of Lima Senior who is attending the University of Cincinnati. He attended Saturday’s banquet as a show of support to the organization that provided him the scholarship.
“I’m very grateful for it,” Moore said. “It’s been helping me out greatly, so the least I could do was come back here and show my support.”
Fails said local students wishing to apply for the scholarship should visit their guidance counselor or call the Lima NAACP office at 419-516-1122. The deadline to apply is May 1.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.