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When state Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch asked students what they wanted to be, the answers varied from musician to nurse, lawyer to baker.
“You can be anything you want to be,” the keynote speaker told a group of 75 students, family members and friends gathered in the Rosenwald Room of the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson for the agency’s student recognition ceremony. Fitch was encouraged to hear that one of the students wanted to be a lawyer.
“I’m ready to come out of retirement. I’ve got one or two more cases. You want to come join my law firm?” Fitch asked. “I am very proud of my law career and I am very proud of those who practiced law with me. There have been four lawyers in the firm of Fitch, Butterfield, Sumner and Wynn. G.K..Butterfield is our United States congressman. Quentin Sumner is a senior resident judge over in Nash County. James Andrew Wynn (Jr.) is on the second-highest court in this nation. It’s called the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. All came out of Wilson, North Carolina.”
OIC student Henry Toom said he wanted to write music for his career.
Fitch was familiar with the name.
“The Henry Toom that I know is your granddaddy,” said Fitch, who grew up on the 500 block of Lodge Street along with the elder Toom.
“See, back in them days, you didn’t have to get beat by your mama an your grandmama,” Fitch said. “You got beat by everybody in the neighborhood and your great-grandma Mrs. Toom got a hold of me once or twice.”
Fitch told the students to always remember that they have worth.
“Whatever you can conceive with your mind, you can do it with your body,” Fitch said. “All I want to do is help somebody. When my day comes and I am no more, I want you to be able to say that I did the best that I could by way of everybody, that I didn’t see no big I’s and no little yous. I didn’t see no black and I didn’t see no white. I saw all human beings. And it takes all of us together in order to make this world the better world that others who have gone before us expected it to be. I wish you all the success in the world that you can garner, because it’s yours.”
Fitch told the students not to let opportunities pass them by.
“If you give it away, it’s nobody’s fault but yours,” Fitch said. “And don’t use that sorry excuse that ‘They did it to me.’ The harder somebody pushes against you, the harder you ought to push back.”