Black Male Initiative celebrates 20-year anniversary with upcoming events

There will be six events from March 28 to April 2.

Members of Black Male Initiative. Black Male Initiative is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Courtesy of Donald Bramlett

Members of Black Male Initiative. Black Male Initiative is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

DeKALB – In honor of their 20-year anniversary, NIU’s Black Male Initiative will be hosting a week-long celebration from March 28 to April 2 with a variety of events for students to attend.

Among the events include a Black Org Trivia Night from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 28 in Campus Life Building Room 100, a pie-throwing event from 3 to 6 p.m. on March 30 in the MLK Commons and the Apollo Talent Show from 4 to 11:30 p.m. on April 1 in Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center. 

“With all of these events, the objective is to benefit the university, its campus and students,” said Christopher Mitchell, BMI’s Faculty Adviser. 

Mitchell hopes that the week’s events cause students to turn out and reinvigorate campus after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We want to celebrate the existence of our students,” Mitchell said. 

The week’s events are all open to students with the exception of BMI’s 20th anniversary celebration on April 2 which is for members only. 

The celebration will be held in two phases, said Donald Bramlett, the founder of BMI and a graduation specialist at NIU. The first will be an alumni networking event from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Altgeld 315. 

“The networking event showcases alums who are doing well in the world,” Bramlett said. “These guys are involved across the board in many industries. By having these guys come back, they (our students) can keep pushing.”

Jobs and internships for students as well as connecting with BMI’s alumni can come out of this networking event, Bramlett said. 

Following the networking event will be the 20th anniversary celebration from 6 to 11 p.m. in Altgeld’s auditorium. 

Over 50 alumni will be present at the celebration and among the guests of the 20th anniversary celebration will be three of the original five members of BMI, who graduated in 2004. 

BMI was first founded in 2001 by Donald Bramlett after he learned from NIU’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness that the chances of graduation were greatly enhanced once a student made it to their fifth semester.

“I founded BMI to specifically enhance the graduation of black males,” Bramlett said. “It prepares guys to have a leadership role on campus.”

BMI meets every Monday at 5 p.m. in the Campus Life Building. Along with weekly meetings, the organization also hosts a multitude of professional development events designed to help students achieve their goals on campus including professional development events including resumé writing, job interview, professional dress and etiquette dinners, Bramlett said. 

“It’s done a lot for me,” said Matthew McConnell, BMI’s Vice President. “I’ve been able to achieve every goal I’ve had and it’s gotten me involved.”

Tayveun Williams, BMI’s Director of Marketing, shares this sentiment and noted that the brotherhood of BMI got him to become more active on campus. 

“I was all about just school and dorm,” Williams said. “BMI got me out of my comfort zone and made me a better man.”

In this organization are the fundamental goals of retention and graduation, according to BMI’s website. Their foundational pillars are Academics, Community Service, Social Interaction, Mentoring and Image Busting, all of which build up BMI’s members to great success, Bramlett said. 

“They’re extremely ambitious, natural-born leaders,” Mitchell said. 

When these men graduate, they will be prepared to go out into the world and achieve lifelong success, Bramlett said. 

“When they go off that stage, I’m there,” Bramlett said.