Student hopes to spread kindness through words

By Shaz Sheikhali

Brother Al is a man of many words — and he tries to make each one kind.

Alvato Cartman Jr., known as Brother Al, a fifth-year year elementary education major, stands around campus as he speaks words of kindness to strangers as they walk by. He calls what he does the “soul words of kindness act.” He believes the “world is supposed to be a place of peace and harmony, whether you know someone or not.”

Brother Al said he has always been like this, and his father had a huge impact on his character.

“I spent a lot of time with my dad, and as a young boy I saw him speaking to a lot of people. My dad definitely inspired me,” he said.

While Brother Al’s father inspired him, he now inspires members of the NIU community. He tries to stand on the wall in front of the Chance Building whenever his schedule permits so he can compliment passersby.

“Brother Al inspires me to be a better man,” said Khiry Johnson, senior physical education major.

A life of kindness can lead to some laughable encounters. Once, a young woman asked Brother Al if he was getting paid by the school to be a motivational speaker because she saw him greet everyone.

“A young lady asked me, she said… ‘You get paid by the school to be a motivational speaker? Are you a motivational speaker?’ He responded saying, “No, I am a student.”

Brother Al said the woman said, “Oh, OK, ‘cause you’re standing here and I see you greeting everyone before I get there as well, so I’m thinking that maybe this guy gets paid to try and bring a good feeling to the campus.”

He is also known to some incoming freshmen: Brother Al was once greeted a young man at orientation who asked if he was Brother Al.

The new student knew about him from his sister.