Rolling Out

How Morehouse alum Leonard McReynolds helped his son follow in his footsteps

Both Morehouse alums, Leonard McReynolds and his son are continuing a proud legacy

Thirty years ago, Leonard McReynolds walked across the stage of Morehouse College with a degree in his hand. Thirty years later, he watched his son complete his journey at the same HBCU. Throughout Reynolds’ life, he’s been a father and coach to his son, knowing when to whisper words of advice into his ear while also letting him face the challenges the world offers on his own. McReynolds hopes that what he learned from his father can benefit his son and future generations.

McReynolds spoke with rolling out about his son graduating and how he’s become a father and coach to him.

When your son graduated, what memories did it bring of your father watching you graduate?

When I saw him [going] up to cross the stage, what was going through my head was legacy. He had his own trials and tribulations, such as COVID-19 during that time and virtual learning, where schools were [still] trying to learn how to do hybrid learning with kids in college, so he had his own struggles. I could imagine how my father felt after seeing me go through what I went through.

What did you teach your son that your father maybe didn’t teach you?

I grew up in a generation where if you got out of line, you would get smacked. After a certain age, I got to a point where I stopped hitting him to get my point across, and I really took the time and patience to be able to try to instill something in him that he could take. Some of my isms are everything that happens bad to you is not always bad for you and that’s a metaphor to just talk about adversity. I think in today’s generation, not to throw him under the bus, but they lack [the] coping skills [to] deal with stuff when things happen. So everything that happens bad to you is not bad for you. It may feel bad, but it may actually lead to something that’s going to help you become a better person if you allow it to versus choosing escapism to deal with that.

What is a prayer that you say for your son’s future?

Praying that the mistakes he makes — because he will make mistakes — will [not] be something that he can’t come back from, and that will be something that is within the realm that we can fix. I pray that it is not his health, or his welfare is not in jeopardy, or he doesn’t do something that’s going to end [up with] him getting into some trouble that we can’t get him out of. Those are the prayers because life isn’t linear. People [will] experience life, and your kids [will] experience life; I don’t care what you did to make them so perfect. They’re going to experience life, and you don’t have control over that, so some of the coaching is also letting go and recognizing the faith and all the stuff [you] put in the deck.

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