Alum: Presidential visit brings "overdue" recognition to BTW - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Alum: Presidential visit brings "overdue" recognition to BTW High

(WMC-TV) - The Booker T. Washington community is ecstatic, with news that in less than one week, President Barack Obama will deliver their commencement address.

Cassandra Henderson is part of the team of students who helped make the winning video.

"I can't wait to see Obama at my graduation," Henderson said.

Henderson was in the room when the Vice President's call came in.

"I was like yes, yes, yes, yes! I started crying," Henderson said.

After school Henderson works at "Streets Ministries". It's the after school hangout spot for most BTW students.

BTW grad Delvin Lane is the assistant director of Streets.

"I think it's long time over due that the school would be exposed for something positive, and not negative, like we normally see with schools like ours in the inner-city," Lane said.

Lane says he knows the challenges BTW students face. He's been there.

"Started selling drugs when I was 11 years old, eventually became a gang member, became a gang leader."

Lane is featured in the book and movie the "Blind Side" as a dynamic quarterback for BTW.

But he was also the leader of the Gangster Disciples.

His opportunity play college football on a scholarship vanished when he went to jail.

"It tells the horrors of living a street life," Lane said. "My brother's serving life in prison....Had a fifteen year old friend die in my arms with a gunshot wound to the chest. Having God grab my life in '99, and put me back in my community to make a difference, it means the world to me."

Now, a community that's fought against some of the biggest challenges in life, will get a commencement address worthy of their fight.

Booker T. Washington High School's graduation rate is soaring. The school has separate freshmen academies for boys and girls. BTW offers everything from AP classes to robotics competitions.

The White House says those are just some of the reasons the President chose the school.

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