I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the illustrious Anthony Tilghman on the Eating as an Act of Worship Ministries Radio Show. He is quite an accomplished man. As a professional photojournalist, his work has appeared in the Washington Post and Black Enterprise. Mr. Tilghman has also been a featured photographer at events such as the Presidential Inauguration, the Academy Awards, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Grammy’s. He discovered his gift for photography while working as a publicist. When a photographer he hired to cover an event failed to show up, Anthony bought a camera of his own. According to Mr. Tilghman, he does not take photos for a living. On the contrary, he describes photography as capturing moments.
Moreover, Anthony is the author of several books. His first published work was an autobiography entitled, From Homeless to Cool. Additionally, Mr. Tilghman has written two children’s books. Bull the Bully was written to heighten the awareness of bullying. The second book entitled, I Want a Pet Cheetah, reveals Anthony’s desire to have a cheetah as a kid. He also authored Black Male, Black Hoodie, which delves into racial profiling of African-American males. In 2020, he released his latest publication, The Effects of the Pandemic on Kids.
Aside from being an award winning photojournalist and a published author, Mr. Tilghman is also a mentor and an avid philanthropist. Drawing on his personal experiences with homelessness and his educational background, Mr. Tilghman now serves as executive director of MakeSmartCool, Incorporated. MakeSmartCool, Inc. is a nonprofit organization in the Washington, D.C. area, which empowers children, parents, teachers, and the community at large to become visionary educationalists.
According to Mr. Tilghman, he was not an ideal student. Growing up, he was actually the class clown. As an adult, he now recognizes the importance of education. “Being smart is the coolest thing you can be,” he believes. Consequently, Anthony strives to motivate kids daily regarding the importance of a quality education because it is paramount to being successful. In 2013, he founded MakeSmartCool, Incorporated because he did not want kids to have the same experiences he did. Specifically, Mr. Tilghman was homeless when he was accepted into Howard University. “I couldn’t afford it,” he humbly admitted. Acknowledging that student debt is a serious problem, Anthony further added that teenagers are often financially illiterate. It is Anthony’s position that, “We need to cancel student debt right now.”
Mr. Tilghman stressed that high schoolers face a variety of challenges, including suicide, struggling to fit in, bullying, and mental health issues. In the arsenal to combat these issues, MakeSmartCool emphasizes that education is a child’s most powerful weapon. Because high school is over so quickly, “You never really learn much about your future in high school,” he expounded. Although Anthony conceded that not everyone has to attend college to be successful, he explained that kids must constantly be given the right push because, “I think all of us have genius qualities inside of us.” He also stated that everyone has the ability to adapt and grow. For example, Mr. Tilghman’s organization recognizes that many children struggle with grammar and reading comprehension. To that end, MakeSmartCool implemented a weekly reading program on Mondays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. throughout the school year. Students can participate online by going to the organization’s website www.makesmart.cool. As Anthony cleverly explains, “We’re too cool for a dot com.”
In addition to being the founder and executive director of MakeSmartCool, Inc., Mr. Tilghman is also the Chair of the Education Roundtable for a public school system in Maryland. In that capacity, he works with parents and community advocates throughout the county, and he visits schools to speak with teachers and students. Mr. Tilghman heralded teachers as “powerful tools” in the educational system, but like many critics of America’s educational institution, he insisted that teachers are not adequately compensated, especially given the mental stress they face in terms of the pandemic and mass shooting events. When asked how he manages to do so much in his community, personal, and professional life, Mr. Tilghman simply replied, “You make time for what’s important.” For more information about Mr. Tilghman, visit his website at www.AnthonyTilghman.com. To hear Anthony Tilghman’s interview in its entirety, you can listen to the Eating as an Act of Worship Ministries Radio Show on the DFW Den Radio Station at www.dfwdenradio.com, on the StudioW Buzz Radio Station by downloading the app Studio.W or livestreaming at www.StudioWBuzz.com, and on Victory KVDW 100.9 FM, 95.3 FM, and 1530 AM in Little Rock, Arkansas.