When Attorney Omari Crawford is not in a courtroom, he may be at his old high school or other schools encouraging students to follow their dreams.
Crawford, a 2004 graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School and a personal injury lawyer at The Cochran Firm Atlanta, has spoken at several schools in DeKalb County and across metro Atlanta to share his life experiences and encourage students to be the best they can be and give back to the community that raised them.
He has spoken at graduations, pre-commencement ceremonies and honors day programs. He has also volunteered to speak to young men, to the track team and band students at Southwest DeKalb and read to elementary students.
“One of my two messages to students is once you graduate, remember that others helped you,” Crawford said. “You have an obligation to help others, you have an obligation to go talk to people.”
He said he preaches this message because he remembers and appreciates the people who had a big impact in his life and helped him grow into the man he is now. Those people include his high school coaches, band directors, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott and his parents, specifically his father.
“My father was my baseball coach growing up and he was the person who was very active in a lot of my friends’ lives,” Crawford said. “He would be the person that invited them over, whether it was to talk about careers or colleges. A lot of my friends, my male friends especially, would always say, ‘Your father was one of the first to instill in me the purpose of going to a [Historically Black College or University.’”
Crawford said Scott is the person who sparked his interest in law when he was an undergrad student at Florida A&M University.
“[Interning] with Judge Scott gave me a more intimate look into the legal field,” he said.
Although he said he isn’t as consistent as he would like to be, Crawford makes sure to find time to talk to young people when he is asked to do so.
“People ask me to help volunteer my time–just to talk to students because I think that I had somewhat of a unique background because I was involved in a lot of things, whether it was sports or even the band,” he said. “So, I like to go and talk to students because I feel like I can reach them where they are, simply because I was there.
“When people call me, I love to go and volunteer, whether it’s speaking engagements or anything else,” he added. “I also think that serving as Mr. FAMU in college sparked that interest. Talking to high school students about getting into college, about the next phases of their lives.
Crawford said he always encourages students to identify their passions, goals or dreams and to follow them.
“After you receive this high school diploma, you have to look forward to the next step, whatever that might be,” he said. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Don’t be limited by other people’s limited imaginations,’ by astronaut Mae Jemison. You got one life to live and if you want to go after that thing, you have two options if you go after your dreams—you’re either going to achieve your dreams or you’re going to learn from your attempts. Go after your dreams no matter how unrealistic others might think they are.”
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