Black Male Initiative welcomes speakers

By Jermaine Pigee

DeKALB | A variety of speakers offered encouragement and inspiration at a conference organized by the Black Male Initiative.

The BMI hosted the African-American Male Student Leadership Institute Saturday. The purpose of the institute was to encourage and facilitate increased male participation in respective communities.

The BMI also wanted to provide an opportunity to network with other leaders, hear dynamic speakers and be actively engaged and inspired to lead.

The first speaker was Jonathan Sprinkles. He is the 2006 College Speaker of the Year as selected by members of the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. He is recognized as one of the most sought-after and well-respected speakers and entrepreneurs in the country.

Sprinkles offered many tips about reaching goals and encouraged students to stay focused and positive.

“You teach people how to teach you,” Sprinkles said. “Don’t complain about what you allow. If you are fired up about yourself, the world will be afraid not to be.”

He also said that people perceive you based on your appearance.

“More is caught than is taught,” he said. “This is based on how you dress and how you project yourself.”

Jerry Wright, NIU’s director of Student Support Services, spoke after Sprinkles. He spoke about self-esteem and student involvement being the key components to student success.

“My program is designed to lead students in the right direction,” Wright said. “If you don’t have a plan, it’s going to be a hard knock world for you.”

Lasana O. Hotep was the final speaker. He serves as program coordinator of the African-American Men of Arizona State University. His areas of expertise include African and African-American history, leadership development, black male retention and hip-hop history and culture.

“World view is a group of people celebrating and sharing problems in a unique way,” Hotep said.

Several students said they got a lot out of the presentations and enjoyed the interaction with other students.

“It’s great to see positive brothers speak to other positive brothers,” said Desmond Campbell, a junior electrical engineering major. “I like how the speakers give the keys to success to other brothers.”

Other students found the speakers’ messages to be useful in their daily lives.

“The institute is beneficial to African-Americans or whoever is at this conference,” said Tim Harper, a freshman electrical engineering major. “I’ll take away skills like writing my future goals down or working harder toward my goals.”