Tommie Lindsey graduated from the University of San Francisco with a major in Communication Arts and Social Science. He was the first African-American to be valedictorian at USF. After his parents died his grandmother raised him along with his brothers and sisters. He attributes his grandmother as giving him his sense of family, his key motivator in working with teenagers today.
Tommie first taught public speaking at Alameda Juvenile Hall in 1976. “It was there, I saw so many lives being wasted and decided I needed to reach them before they got here (juvenile hall).” Moving on to the high school level, his first forensics’ team consisted of 8 teens from a continuation school. “These kids would show up for competition, and people would ask, ‘Where are they from?’ They weren’t suppose to succeed and yet they were.”
His program at James Logan High began 14 years ago with 15 in the program. Today the program surpasses 200 students. His team has won the California State Forensics Championship four out of the last seven years (’96, ’98, ’99, ’01). In 2004, Lindsey received a prestigious MacArthur fellowship in recognition of creativity in his field.