Security guard’s passion for positivity stretches from activism to morning greetings

Roderick+Wilson%2C+a+security+guard+at+Baldwin+High+School%2C+is+known+for+his+enthusiastic+morning+greetings+to+students+and+for+attending+school+sports+events.++

Ethan Spozarski

Roderick Wilson, a security guard at Baldwin High School, is known for his enthusiastic morning greetings to students and for attending school sports events.

By Alli Schroeder and Ethan Spozarski

Baldwin students know Roderick Wilson as the security guard who greets everyone with positivity in the morning. 

But before his employment as a security guard, Wilson was a bishop in several different places across North America. He also has worked in civil rights activism his entire life, connecting with students and other activists. 

He got an early start in activism. As a high school student in Boston, Wilson dealt with forced busing, racial uprisings, and school violence, which led him to become so involved in civil rights. He began protesting for civil rights as a student on Boston Mayor Kevin White’s youth commission in 1979 and has since been involved with the NAACP.

Wilson participated in a 1992 protest in Putnam, Conn, that included Jesse Jackson and that was organized in response to a march by the Ku Klux Klan on the local high school. The Klan had called the march after a racial dispute at the school, and Wilson remembers the tension that day.

“It was a scary time in front of the Klan,” Wilson said, “They had their hoods on and double-barrel shotguns.”  

More recently, in 2020 Wilson walked in Frankfort, Ken., to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” or the March on Selma, for the 55th anniversary of the march. 

I think when anybody is as energetic as Mr. Wilson, it changes your mood for the better while we are at school.”

— Kiera Platz

Wilson believes that all people should have an equal and fair fight, an ideology he takes from Malcom X. Wilson remembers visiting Malcom X’s burial site and even meeting his wife and kids in Harlem, New York.

Wilson’s work in social justice has led him to instill the same beliefs in young people, so that all can have equal opportunities. 

“I try to spread positivity through to you kids to carry the torch to see the wrongs and injustices so that you can make it happen,” Wilson said. “I believe in a fair and equal playing field.”

His positivity and energy is put into action first thing in the morning, as he greets students walking in from the parking lot. Freshman softball player Kiera Platz notices that Wilson’s positivity has had an impact on her.

“I have two nicknames from him: freshman phenom and protege,” Platz said. “It’s great coming into school in the morning half asleep, and he’s outside greeting everyone with a smile and lots of energy.” 

Wilson’s positivity seems to rub off on students, she said. 

“I think when anybody is as energetic as Mr. Wilson, it changes your mood for the better while we are at school,” Platz said.

Wilson supports Baldwin athletes by attending their games to keep them motivated. 

Junior Lorenzo Shipley, from the champion ice hockey team, appreciates the support from Wilson, who attended games and now refers to individual members of the team as “state champions.” 

“It was pretty cool,” Shipley said. “We know how much he supports us, and seeing him the crowd gets us pumped up and ready to play.”

Wilson has been going to games since he was first employed at Baldwin last year.

“I go to games to be supportive of the kids so they can be the best they can be,” Wilson said. “I’m in their corner.”  

Wilson’s own involvement in sports when he was younger heavily contributes to his support of student athletes. He knows how much the support can make a difference. 

“I was good at running,” Wilson said. “I did track and field and used it as a gateway to football, basketball and baseball. If you could run well, the other stuff just came.” 

Baseball, however, was Wilson’s number one sport. His favorite team growing up was the Cincinnati Reds and his favorite player was Joe Morgan, who was a second baseman — the same position as Wilson. 

Wilson was born in Charleston, W. Va. His father was a drill sergeant and served in the U.S. military for 34 years. 

“My father, while we weren’t close, he taught me how to be a man, and how to be responsible through his own faults,” Wilson said. 

Wilson was closer to his mother. She was a daycare teacher and a dry cleaner.

“I don’t know how she made it,” Wilson said. “My mother had a tremendous work ethic. My mother lost two kids as babies. I don’t know how she did it.”

Wilson has always believed in working and having a good work ethic, a big reason why he still works as a security guard. He also keeps working to support his son, now a student at the University of Kentucky. 

His security work started well before he arrived at Baldwin. Wilson also has worked at East Allegheny and Chartiers Valley.

Wilson’s positivity has had an impact on the school as a whole, not just the students. Security supervisor Loran Skinkis is quite familiar with Wilson’s hard work ethic and infectious personality.

“The quality of his character is noble and wise. He’s a too busy’ to work events in the evenings or on weekends, Mr. Wilson is always ready to help out to keep our school safe and secure.”

This story was originally published on Purbalite on May 27, 2021.