In light of black history month, the Men of Excellence hosted their 12th annual State of the Black Union Address in the Trent Lott Center on The University of Southern Mississippi campus. Men of Excellence is student and community service based organization that strives to better the images of all males on campus individually and collectively through program enrichment. The State of the Union Address consist of a panel of student leaders and professors who answer questions concerning problematic issues within the African-American community such as racial diversity, gender equality, socioeconomic backgrounds, the importance of higher education and African-American educators within schools. The event was a success. The individuals on the panel gave responses in a way that we as the audience could feel how they were raised in the African-American community.
The State of the Black Union Panel consisted of: Donald Holmes – senior English major with a minor in Black Studies; Davontae Washington – senior Business Management major; Dr. Cheryl Jenkins – Assistant Professor in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism; Dr. Kevin Greene – visiting Assistant Professor of African-American History; Gay Polk Payton – Forrest County Justice Court Judge, General Practitioner of Polk Payton Law Office and adjunct faculty member for the Southern Miss Department of Human Performance and Recreation; Nayarda Robinson – Branch Officer of Bancorp South Bank and serves as an officer in the United States Air Force Reserves .
As African-Americans, we never truly get to listen and observe the issues that plague our communities or the ways in which individuals create preconceived notions about us as a race. Nevertheless, it was evident that the panel as well as the audience agreed that being an African-American in society beyond the color of our skin. Attorney General for the Student Government Association, Donald Holmes said being black does simply correlate to his skin color. “Being black has a lot to do with one’s culture and how you contribute to your society. The idea of soul food, the blues, vernacular forms of music and Ebonics are fixated within the African-American community. Nevertheless, I am a proud African-American male who diligently contributes to my society. Being black should always be used as a positive testament to the struggles of African-Americans in society,” said Holmes.
After hearing Holmes’ response, this issue as well as the other issues touched me in a motivational way. I pride myself on being successful but also being a successful African-American male in society. As I look around society, many of my fellow people do not value the importance of higher education, come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, do not appreciate the few African-American professors who worked hard to educate the needs of students and women are challenged more in regards to their career aspirations. With that being said, as a race, we have to continue to progress and motivate one another to be successful. When he each other accountable in the ways in which it is beneficial to one’s success, we can better the image of our race in society and establish brighter futures within our communities.