Straight Words

Black Men, Black Institutions And Black Progress

By Richard B. Muhammad - Editor | Last updated: Nov 4, 2015 - 2:03:15 PM

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When we come into this world, we are assured of few things. One thing we can count on is that we will one day depart this earthly plane. We will no longer walk among the living at some point. The question to be asked is how do we live our lives and what did we devote ourselves to?

Those who are remembered in history and those who are assured of remembrance in divine scripture, whether the Bible or the Holy Qur’an, the revealed word of God for the Muslims, are those who strive in the way of God and live lives that are selfl ess in some way. Service to Almighty God is eternal because the One God is the Ever Living and the One By Whom We All Subsist.

Yet the Divine One shares something of Himself with all of us and while we learn of God through his creatures and creation we learn most about God through the manifestation of his attributes and gifts in human beings.

Such attributes as wisdom, truth, honesty, creativity, compassion and mercy are found in human beings and human beings build institutions that can be devoted to these same values. But when we have the opportunity to serve, in particular, in Black institutions and the opportunity to impact and direct young lives, how seriously do we take that opportunity?

As a young Black man who grew up without a father, I needed guidance and inspiration which I found in a person of a man, Richard E. Robinson, who was not only a devoted employee of Morgan State University in Baltimore, but also a man who had tremendous impact on my life at a critical juncture. He departed this life in late October.

Brother Robinson was the chapter advisor for the Alpha Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at Morgan State before I was initiated and after I was brought into the Noble Klan. He was devoted to the development of the young men under his charge. He didn’t shrink from duty. He was generous, kind and steadfast. He spoke straight words and whether you liked what you heard or not, Brother Robinson dealt honestly with you.

As a struggling student, I happened to one day cross his path on campus. And in a short, casual conversation, he asked how I was doing. I told him I was dealing with financial aid problems and trying to get into school. He nonchalantly told me to stop by his office later in the day. I did. To my surprise I was handed an envelope with a letter in it and told to take it to the university bursar. I did. The bursar took the envelope and told me I could register for classes. In a letter Brother Robinson had committed to paying my tuition if I did not. He didn’t ask for recognition, praise or hosannas. He gave his word to the university and I gave my word to him and made sure my tuition was paid in full.

My point? If we are to progress as a people, our lives inside Black institutions must go beyond a nine-to-five, clock-watching mentality, a blasé attitude and inept performances. We have to understand our daily actions impact our people. Despite the predominant American attitude of doing as little as possible in eight hours of work, our commitment must be deeper and demand a higher level of service. Why? Because we are trying to raise a suffering and degraded people. Every opportunity, every tool, every challenge we overcome moves our people a little closer to a full and complete freedom. We must cherish and protect our institutions as Black institutions under attack. We fought and sacrificed for everything we have so protecting our institutions and the development of our young people are essential to our progress.

Young men, in particular, need mentors and role models who will live principles that are espoused and men who will challenge them to be leaders, not followers, and servants, not faithless shepherds with no sense of duty.

Brother Robinson embodied many of those ideals and his life and legacy will live long after his physical remains return to the earth. I thank Almighty God for his life, his lessons and long years of service and sacrifice. His struggle is over but his life inspires me to embrace struggle. For without struggle there can be no progress.

Richard B. Muhammad is editor in chief of The Final Call newspaper. He can be reached through www.finalcall.com and at editor@finalcall.com. Find him on Facebook at Richard B. Muhammad and on Twitter: @ Rmfinalcall. His website is www.richardmuhammad.com. Catch his weekly segment Sundays at 8 a.m. CST on touchfm.org.

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