SACRAMENTO – After hearing Frank Withrow speak at a local event, a young man referred to him as an “OG” and the community mentor and former educator initially took offense to the moniker. The young man then explained that he wasn’t calling him an “original gangsta” but an “outstanding gentleman.”
Withrow felt better about that description, as he has dedicated his life to being outstanding and encouraging others to live their potential.
Clear communication between the generations is vital, Withrow says.
“We wonder why kids don’t respect us, he said. “We don’t talk to them.”
Withrow, who many know as the Middle-Aged Rapper for his signature motivational spoken word pieces or “the guy who looks like Isaac Hayes, was recently honored for three decades of service to the community. The Kings & Queens Rise, Build.Black, Sacramento Kings, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, Black Child Legacy Campaign presented Withrow with the On Whose Shoulders We Stand Award at a recent basketball game between Marina Vista High School and McClatchy High School.
Withrow taught business classes at McClatchy for 20 years. Prior to that, he taught at Sacramento High School. He also became chair of the United Black Student Unions of California Advisory Board. Additionally, he provided assistant on other local campuses such as Luther Burbank, Kennedy High, Laguna Creek, Florin High and Valley High.
The recent tribute drew participation from a number of former students and staffers whom Withrow worked with throughout the Sacramento City Unified School District.
“It was great. It’s a blessing,” Withrow said of the honor. The shows of appreciation continued this week as a former student treated him to brunch in celebration of him turning 74 on Wednesday.
Withrow loves the special jersey presented to him by the Sacramento Kings at the awards presentation and was happy for the opportunity to speak to and uplift the young people in attendance. He says he had parents, counselors and teachers who helped guide him and he feels like it’s his “responsibility to” do the same for the youth of today.
“They have no idea what went on before they got here. We have to give them that history,” he continued.
It’s ironic that Withrow would receive an award from a program called Kings and Queens as that’s how he greets fellow African Americans he encounters– “Hello Queen,” “How are you, King?”
Withrow says he tried to approach everything with a positive attitude, even despite recent health issues. He’s had two hip replacements and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer that was found to be blocking his small intestines.
“I’m happy, he said.
“I was under the weather for a while, but I’m back.”
By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer