Pastor Anthony Harris and the Road out of Poverty

Jason BoyettComment
Photo by Shannon Richardson for  Amarillo Magazine  (January 2017)

Photo by Shannon Richardson for Amarillo Magazine (January 2017)

One of my clients is an international child advocacy organization for whom I regularly write proposals and field reports for donors. One of the major themes of these reports, based on realms of research and statistics, is that education is one of the biggest factors in the reduction of poverty. This is true in India and Kenya and Ecuador, and it's also true in the United States.

I had the honor to meet and interview Pastor Anthony B. Harris of St. John Baptist Church in Amarillo. He and church member Lanitra Barringer are hard at work promoting education among the families living within a five-mile radius of the church. Their annual college tour for high school students represents many of these kids' first opportunities to leave the Amarillo city limits. It exposes them to the benefits of higher education and helps them visualize a life outside the low expectations of poverty.

By all accounts, the bus tour works. ‘Three of our students have already applied to Tech just from seeing the campus and knowing there are other options outside of Amarillo,’ says Barringer. Another attended the Air Force Academy. Still others end up at local schools. One of those is Shannon Thomas, a long-time St. John member who received a scholarship to WTAMU. She’s getting her basics out of the way in Canyon before transferring to Huston-Tillotson, a private, historically black college in Austin, where she’ll be pursuing a degree in social work.

Read the full article in the January 2017 issue of Amarillo Magazine, and don't miss the sidebar at the end. "The Reality of Poverty" tells a harrowing story that will be foreign to readers living outside impoverished neighborhoods.