Charles Schooler was selling copies of his self-published book More Than Entertainers: An Inspirational Black Career Guide on weekends and during his time off from work when he discovered that it had been nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
The book went on to beat four others released by major publishing houses for the prize of Outstanding Literary WorkûYouth and Teens. “I was surprised,” said the 31-yearold west suburban Aurora resident who traveled to Los Angeles to receive his award.
The idea for More Than Entertainers came in 2004. Schooler, a college graduate, was troubled by the low value placed on education in the Black community. The 2006 U.S. Census Bureau indicated that only 18 percent of Blacks older than 25 had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 27 percent of the general population.
“If you flip through a majority career book, you see a white guy that’s 45 years old. He doesn’t come from the same background as you, he doesn’t look like you, so you don’t make that connection,” Schooler said. By the time More Than Entertainers was completed in May 2005, it detailed 35 different career pathsûfrom meteorology to funeral director to physical therapy.
Schooler re-released the book in June 2007, with updated information and a stronger youth focus. The first-time author admitted that working full-time prevented him from distributing his book as widely as he would have liked. But he is still disappointed by its local reception, especially in light of its national recognition.
“It’s troubling,” he said. “It doesn’t take rocket science to see the need for a book like this.”
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