Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
City University of New York (CUNY) alumni Dr. Nicole K. Grimes shared on her December 11, 2013 web page that our featured profile is “The smartest kid in the world” and London’s Black Youth Achievement (BYA) group says that this 9 year-old is virtually “unstoppable!”
“Unstoppable” would be a key descriptor as Young, Gifted and Black is indeed honored to present an update on London’s Joshua Beckford.
The YG&B series first highlighted Joshua when he became the youngest student to study at the University of Oxford in 2011.
At the age of 6, he earned over five Distinction Certificates in philosophy, mathematics, and history and had additionally completed a master-class research project in Historical Enquiry on the Great Plague of 1665 thereby earning him yet another Distinction Certificate.
According to his father, Knox Daniel, as quoted in the November 23, 2013 Courier YG& B series, Joshua while on the Oxford England campus scored mostly 95 to 100 percent on all of his assignments.
He ranked 4th place out of 24 “able and high-performing students” who were all older than him ranging in age from 8 to 12.
At ten months, Joshua could understand the alphabet and point to different colors on a chart.
He learned to read fluently at the age of 2 and at 6 was able to read at the level of a 16 year-old.
His father further reveals that Joshua taught himself to touch-type on a computer before he had the motor skills to hold a pencil and that by the time he was three, he could name most of the cars on the road, recall the country in which they were made and also at this age began the study of Japanese and Chinese Mandarin.
Now today, cautioning not to get too much ahead of this treatment, our young prodigy has been “more than proficient” says his father, in Power Point presentations – primarily on health related topics – to capacity room audiences for the last three years.
He is in fact scheduled to present to a fundraising event on May 3, 2014 for the Afro-Caribbean Leukemia Trust (ACLT) with a support listing upwards of 500 people.
This fundraiser will reportedly help aid in Leukemia cancer research. The ACLT, says Daniel, is also appealing to the African-Caribbean community to register potential donors for bone marrow transplants as there is a severe shortage of matching donors.
Joshua is scheduled to present at this May event a Power Point on the anatomy of the human body.
And just as an aside, the November 23, 2013 YG&B series on Joshua – titled “6 year-old studies Philosophy, Math, and History at Oxford – attracted 35,994 viewings placing this article in third ranking of the most viewed writings in the Courier newspaper.
The most viewed number one article in the Courier was in fact the very first writing in the YG&B series – “African American youth invents surgical technique at age 14.”
This February 11, 2012 writing attracted 51,849 viewings.
“I was speechless and overwhelmed when I read your 23rd November 2013 article in the Milwaukee Courier on Joshua and even more surprised to see the number of hits climb to 35,994,” says his father in a phone conversation from London.
“I didn’t expect him to receive so much interest and positive supportive comments from so many people all over the world,” he adds.
However surprising this may appear, since his studies at Oxford, recalls Daniel in a continuing interview account, Joshua now has over 3 million followers with articles in over 90 countries worldwide.
He is additionally cited in over 26 online encyclopedias and included in a scholarly journal at the University of Montreal in Canada.
“I have even found him mentioned in an article in Cape Verde in Portuguese and he has also received extensive coverage on BlackDoctors.org, clocking up 1,000 hits every hour during the first few days,” notes Daniel.
He has been featured in two on-line digital Black History Month magazines and in the Internet magazine “YouthPhoria.”
He was profiled in “Ten-2-Teens” described as an inspirational hard copy Black teens magazine.
Joshua is challenged by autism and his family is further in hopes that their son’s notoriety will bring more attention, research and research funding to this affliction.
On January 15, 2014, Joshua was recognized by The House of Commons as a “Positive Role Model” and two years prior on November 10, 2012, he was in proud receivership of the Black Youth Achievement Award in Education at the 4th Annual BYA Awards banquet.
The BYC ceremony is dedicated to celebrating young people and their achievements in school and in the community.
According to a promotional descriptor, “In stark contrast to the usual images of Black youth portrayed as criminals and disadvantaged underachievers, the BYA Awards showcased some of the country’s finest success stories and promoted a true representation of individuals of African Caribbean heritage.”
BYA award categories include Creative Arts, Literary Arts, Performing Arts, Business and Enterprise, Choices, Community, Education, Sports, S.T.E.M., Personal Development Organization of the Year, Mother of the Year, and Father of the Year.
A native of Totteham in the London Borough of Haringey, Joshua has his sights on becoming a neurosurgeon and as reported in the earlier YG&B series, he is looking to attend Oxford University full time.
Daniel says that his son is already practicing simulations of surgical operations on his laptop.
“He reads advance books on the body.
He learns all the different organs and what they do. He can name every part of the brain using the technical terms in Latin.
He’s also good at Japanese.
I buy programs for him but basically, he’s self-taught.
He goes to Japanese restaurants and he orders in Japanese.
Joshua can also count to 100 in Estonian and can sing a few songs in Zulu.
I feel proud of him,” says his father.
Presently, Joshua practices karate and immerses himself in art for relaxation, another gift says dad that he is developing.
He has written a song called “Mother Earth” which, notes Daniel, is about saving the environment.
This tune was recorded in a London studio on Sunday, April 20, 2014. To raise awareness about autism, he was featured in a TV advertisement to be aired on ABN, an African Satellite Channel on the Sky Platform.
He also visions to write a children’s book on ancient Egypt.
“The key is you can never really start too early and we just discovered that he was really interested in all sorts of things,” says Daniel in the November article.
His father additionally shares that Joshua can ask “loads of questions all day long” about fairly complex matters that a child, understandably, would normally never think about.
“One morning, he got up and said, ‘Dad, I would really like to evaluate the properties of God’.”
Yet another challenging inquiry poised to his father: “Is infinity an odd or an even number?”
Of course his father, in his words, “had no idea.”