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Meridian students learn lessons in love and pride from Ricky Hood

By Staff
LOVE YOURSELF Former Meridian resident Ricky Hood tells students at Magnolia Middle School on Friday to love themselves and not let pride stand in their way. Hood's talk was part of the school's Black History Month program. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/staff writer
Feb. 9, 2002
The message was short, but so sweet that it moved many Magnolia Middle School students and staff to laughter and some to tears.
Former Meridian resident Ricky Hood spoke to sixth and seventh graders on Friday about loving themselves and the importance of not letting pride stand in the way of achievement.
Students walked away from the program telling their teachers "I love myself" with the emphasis on "love." And, they pledged to ask for help when they need it.
Hood now lives in Tupelo where he serves as executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of North Mississippi. He is the former director of the Lauderdale County organization.
Hood, whose talk was part of Magnolia Middle School's Black History Month program, began his speech by stating the obvious: he is black.
When asked to be the speaker for the Black History Month program, Hood said he knew it was because they wanted the blackest person they could find. The auditorium shook with laughter.
He then began interacting with the children.
Hood told the story of when he and his wife, Vicky, were married while he was playing basketball at Murray State University. A rat, he said, changed his perception of pride.
The couple had $165 and moved into a married housing unit on campus. Hood said his coach asked him if he needed any food tickets for the weekend, but he was too proud to take it.
Hood said his next-door neighbor, a friend of his, would have shared food or helped the couple. But Hood said he wouldn't approach his friend.
Instead, the Hoods stayed at home all weekend.
They were hungry and had nothing but a jar of peanut butter and a container of oatmeal as they laid on their sofa bed and watched their 13-inch black-and-white television with broken rabbit-ears.
He told the students that pride can be a hurtful thing. "You can choose to not let people know when you need help and continue to fail," he said. "Before you can love anybody else, you have to love yourself."

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