Columbus man, ex-gang member’s life turned around with help from professor

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 10:45 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A former gang member says he has proven there is an answer for some of the violence in Columbus and surrounding cities.

29-year-old Brandon Fleming is the founder of Harvard University’s Diversity Debate Council Diversity Project. He says a connection to one woman helped him turn his life around.

Fleming says he became a gang member to escape abuse at home. He adds that there were no educated role models in his neighborhood so he believed gangs or basketball were his only options.

He told a crowd attending a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in Columbus that he got into college on a basketball scholarship. But in his freshman year, an injury ended his basketball career.

Fleming found himself in college with a middle school education.

The love of a white professor, he says, changed his life.

“I scored in the bottom percentile of the SAT,” Fleming recalled. “I was the one people would’ve voted least likely to succeed. And so, here I am in college to the point where my academic advisor has explain to me what a major was.”

Fleming says, instead of flunking him for cheating, his white college professor began to tutor him and encourage him to reach his potential.

He began to excel in college and made a decision to go to under achieving students in Atlanta and tutor them.

His first three years of tutoring has produced African American championship debate teams at Harvard University.

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