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Martin Luther King Banquet

By Joe Starkey



A most dynamic speaker gave a remarkable, enthusiastic call to excel at this banquet. Mr. Farrah Gray told a completely full civic center crowd how he went from “Nobody to Somebody”. This paper gave a fairly complete biography of Mr. Gray so this article will give some of the highlights of his story and talk. His enthusiasm shows {{more}}clearly when he tells of responding to a comment that he is so young that “how can you know?” He cheerfully admits to “being born yesterday, BUT I stayed up all night!” He wanted us to know that he was born poor – poor enough that seeing a rat in the bed was not “EEK!” but “move over rat, it’s my turn to sleep.”At the age of 6, his mother had a second heart attack and was told to cut back. He looked at what he could do to help and earn money and created a business from the rocks lying around the neighborhood and some paint. He painted the rocks and went door to door selling book ends, paperweights and doorstops. “I never sold anyone a ROCK. It was always something useful.” This first effort gained him $50.00 and he took his mother out for her first “sit down” dinner. He had always been told to have a plan B, so this was a buffet and he took along some Tupperware to bring food home for the next meal.Other kids told the teacher about wanting to be firemen, doctors, etc but he told her that he was going to be a “millionaire entrepreneur”. She told him he would never make it and to prepare himself to work for somebody else. After making his first million dollars at the age of 14, he wrote a book and put her name in it with what she told him. When she called up and complained of being put in the book, he told her that he did it so everybody would know who and what she was and she could not “bust their dreams.”His grandmother helped his dreams by telling him to think “Why not Me?” and to never fear rejection. Asking the crowd how long you have to make a pitch to someone, many answered only a minute but he showed that you have 15 seconds to make your pitch or they will hang up. At 8, he formed a club of friends to discuss business ideas. After much rejection, a Ramada Inn offered free space with pizza and sodas. An NBC reporter asked him where he would find kids in the project with brains and his response was that this was an insult because they had the brains – what they lacked was resources! He also commented that some people had escaped the project and now “eat chittlins with a toothpick” having lost their connection to family. It’s not necessarily accomplishments that cause self esteem but you need high esteem to make your accomplishments come up to that level.He created many of the opportunities that came his way by being prepared. He had a business card by the age of 8 that stated “21st Century CEO”. This intrigued a lady that he approached after moving with an older brother to Las Vegas into inviting him onto a talk show. The response was so great that at 9 ½, he had his own talk show. He read the book “Kitchen to Market” and took his belief and ideas to create a food company that sold for over one million dollars.He believes we have to find out what God put us here for and do that to be happy and satisfied with our lives. To do this, we need to ask ourselves “What comes easy to me and is hard for others? What could I do for years and never need to be paid? How can I give back to the community?” The problems today are that too many are silent and not “lifting up our voices to sing” and we “assemble in the name of” but “go home and do nothing.”His conclusion started with the question “Do dogs like bones?” and many in the crowd answered “yes”. His response was that “dogs like STEAK but settle for bones.” If you hate your job, it’s your choice to keep doing it. Do what makes you happy instead. We are not as divided as we are disconnected. “One snowflake is nothing but many together will shut down any town.” We let religion and politics get in the way – a division mentality when working together is needed to succeed. We need discipline to get and stay motivated. “Remember that life is not a dress rehearsal.” Lastly, surround yourselves with positive people and stay away from the negative ones. “If you can’t change the people around you, then change who the people are around you.” The banquet concluded with Black Chamber of Commerce President, Floyd Miller presenting Mr. Gray with a proclamation declaring January 14 to be Farrah Gray Day. It inspired one of the shortest acceptance speeches on record “I’m speechless.”

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The West Texas Tribune is a community-based newspaper that has been published, uninterrupted, since May 2005. Our goal is to highlight events and people throughout West Texas as an independent, locally run newspaper. We thrive on the support of our local community.

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