HBCU standouts convene to plan future for Black nation and worldBy Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Oct 2, 2012 - 9:07:08 AM
Ready to take the reins of leadership
The inaugural Black College Student Leadership Fall Summit brought together student leaders from various historically Black colleges and universities in North and South Carolina September 7th and 8th to share strategies to address issues and to develop solutions to the problems facing many Black communities.
The summit is the brainchild of former student activist Rev. Gregory Drumwright, now pastor of The Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C. Rev. Drumwright was the Student Government Association president at North Carolina A&T a decade ago. Back then, all the Black student government leaders in North Carolina would meet once a month to plan joint programming and projects. During a visit to his old campus last fall, he was informed that the coalition was no longer meeting.
He prayed on it, and began to survey the student leadership groups in North and South Carolina. Working with campus officials and using his own financial resources, he decided to hold the fall leadership summit, which in turn led to the establishment of the Carolina Black Student Government Association.
Many are aware of the well-known HBCU’s spread out across the Mid-Atlantic and Deep South, but unknown to many is the fact that there are a combined 19 HBCUs located in North and South Carolina, making that region a potential powerhouse and launching pad for Black thought, activism and business development that could improve conditions nationwide.
Wearing business attire, the articulate students also discussed how best to organize and empower those on their campuses to become agents of change that would positively affect society beyond the protected and insulated boundaries of their college campuses.
Delrisha White, a 20-year-old journalism and media studies major, is the Student Government Association president at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She said the summit was very informative and very empowering during a critical time in which Black students should be aware of social, racial and political tensions that exist in the country. She and the members of her executive board work constantly to battle the apathy that exists on campus.
“When you are trying to change a culture or a dynamic on campus or a mindset, it’s important that the student leaders that are in charge are being what they want to inspire other students to be--leading by example,” said Ms. White.
Ms. White said she was not a real “friendly and bubbly person” when she first got to campus, however those who embraced her and interacted with her helped her become a more confident and sociable person. At Bennett, they have a full calendar of events aimed at encouraging students to become more involved, even if they decide not to become active in student government.
Joyce Lutu, a 21-year-old senior at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, said the conference was very beneficial. As an English major, and Spanish minor, she plans on attending graduate school and later moving on to become a speech and language pathologist. As the student government vice-president of Academic Affairs at her school, she encourages students to get involved and believes they have created an excellent environment on her campus for students to become active.
“We have implemented this idea where anyone who wants to open up a specific organization pertaining to anything, they’re able to do that. There’s a wide variety of what people are interested in and because its open to the floor, any student can start any type of organization,” said Ms. Lutu. “I haven’t met a student yet—and I do know a lot of students—who is not active in an organization. They may not be active in a sport or even sororities or fraternities but they’re able to express their passions through these organizations.”
Narcissia Lewis, a 24-year-old junior social work major, attends Livingstone College. At her school, it is a mandatory requirement for them to perform community service, and she believes it is up to Black students to grab the reins of community leadership.
“In doing community service hours, a lot of students get out and it forces them to interact with one another,” said Ms. Lewis. “We have to—as a community and as young people—we have to inspire generations coming up after us because if we don’t, who will?” she asked.
Jacob Smith, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in supply chain management at North Carolina State University in Greensboro, worked closely with Rev. Drumwright traveling with him to some of the HBCUs during the planning stages.
“I think it was much needed because there is a lack of connection, and that was one of the points we touched on the whole weekend was connecting,” said Mr. Smith. “The main problem is how do we get each other to come together and with this event, I felt like we really made a step toward bridging that gap.”
Although Mr. Smith is not currently an active member of student government, he said as a result of attending the summit and seeing all the actively engaged student government representatives, he may run for an office on campus in the near future.
“After coming to this event I will likely go for something because I originally thought that student government was about people holding positions who didn’t really do anything, but it’s those people in the positions,” he said.