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CSI Files

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Harper Wants To Give Back

By Rachel
February 12, 2008 - 5:17 AM

Hill Harper (Dr Sheldon Hawkes) wants to educate and uplift the youth of America.

The CSI: New York star believes in the importance of mentoring and in having strong role models. "My grandfather had a pharmacy, and all through segregation and Jim Crow he would serve the African-American community [by giving] out prescription medicine to people who couldn't afford it," Harper explained to TV Guide. "That made an imprint on me with the idea that all of us, no matter who we are, should serve our community in some way and give back."

"Since I'm in the entertainment business I think I have to hold a mirror up to myself and say, 'Am I complicit in miseducating and misinforming our youth by participating in this business, or can I use this business to re-educate and uplift?'" Harper continued. "So that's what I'm trying to do." Harper has used his success to reach young people and impart good advice through his book Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, and on June 3, his second book will be released. Like its predecessor, Letters to a Young Sister: Define Your Destiny is aimed toward the youth of America, but this time he is hoping to reach young women.

"Mentorship is about helping navigate the journey. I believe that mentorship on paper works, too. For young women it was a different challenge," Harper explained. He approached the book almost as an older brother, giving the readers insight about men. Harper also got help from his "surrogate sisters", women who could give a female perspective on the issues discussed in the book. "It's a different book in the sense that it mixes more male and female voices throughout," Harper said.

Harper hosted the special Lessons from Little Rock: A National Report Card for TV One, which addressed the issue of education by revisiting Arkansas' Central High School 50 years after the integration of the Little Rock Nine opened the doors to allow African-American students the chance for a better education. Lessons included interviews with some of the members of the Little Rock Nine about education in America today, and Harper himself learned some disturbing facts. "Not only are we finding that graduation rates and literacy rates are tumbling, but even within the school there are problems with the education of African-American students. It's a little disheartening in certain aspects," he said. However, he is not discouraged. "I feel extremely hopeful because I feel like we've gotten to a point where we have to make a change," he explained. "We have to make a difference right now."

The full interview, including Harper's thoughts on how to fix the problems with education and his opinion about the writers' strike, can be found at TV Guide. According to the TV One website, Lessons from Little Rock: A National Report Card will re-air February 13 at 10:00am EST and February 23 at 6:00am EST. Scheduling is subject to change.

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