Celebrating Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) | AWARE! | WSRE

Celebrating Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) | AWARE! | WSRE

August 23, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– [Announcer] This
original WSRE presentation is made possible by
viewers like you. Thank you. (rhythmic music) (calm piano music) – [Narrator] This is
the dream grown young, the dream so bravely tended through a century of fears, through the years of working,
praying, striving, learning. The dream become a
beacon brightly burning. (upbeat marching band music) – [Kimberle] Black
colleges are spaces where black people are affirmed. – You could be yourself
and develop yourself in this rich soil. – It’s a space that is an
unapologetic black space. – These are places with this
incredible freedom to explore. – We wanted to better ourselves. We wanted to have an institution
where the people like us all wanted to be more
than the status quo. – The question for African
Americans has always been, what is education’s purpose? Who controls it? And what is the
relationship of education to the broader
aspirations of our people? – You’ve been watching
the first few minutes of the story of
historical black colleges and universities in the
award-winning document “Tell Them We Are Rising.” Hi, everyone, I’m Dee Dee Sharp, and this is a special
edition of the “AWARE!” show. We’re glad to have you
right there with us. Today we wanna look at
the significant roles HBCUs have played
in American history and in the African
American experience, culture, and heritage. Today, we’re joined
in the studio by community leaders who
have either graduated, worked for, or
have been mentored by someone associated
with an HBCU. We’ll get to them momentarily, but we’ll also be
joined by phone by the producer and
director of the documentary “Tell Them We are Rising.” That and more still
coming up, but first, want you to take
another look and listen. (whip cracks) (chains jangling)
(somber music) – Slavery was more brutal
than we can imagine. (whip cracks) Brutality went with the system. (chains jangling) – But there’s another
type of brutality that took place during slavery, and that was the
brutality of ignorance, keeping intellectual
thought, keeping learning, keeping reading,
knowledge from slaves. – The more that a system
denies you the chance to read and to write,
the more that thing, reading and writing,
becomes valuable, becomes precious, becomes
a prize that you must have. – [Narrator] “I had no schooling “whatsoever when I was a slave. “On several occasions, I went
as far as a schoolhouse door “with one of my
young mistresses. “I had the feeling that
getting into that schoolhouse “would be the same as
getting into paradise.” Booker T. Washington. – When they saw
white people reading, and slave people called
that “talking to books,” the idea that this
piece of paper that someone’s looking at, they could actually communicate
with gave them a sense that this was a
kind of knowledge that opened up all
kinds of opportunities. – A slaveholder could do
virtually anything to his slave. He could work his
slave to death. He could rape a slave. He could sell a slave. It’s my property,
the argument was, so I can do whatever I
want to with my property except one thing I
can’t do to my property. I can’t teach my property. I can’t teach my slave
how to read or write. An educated black population could not be an enslaved
black population. – Joining us by phone
is Stanley Nelson Jr. He’s an award-winning director, a filmmaker, a
writer, and producer, and he is just one of the people who’s behind this documentary that you’ve just been
hearing some excerpts from. He’s joining us by phone. Thank you for being there, and tell us what
your inspiration was in producing this documentary
about HBCUs, Mr. Stanley. – [Stanley] Well, you know,
I felt that the HBCU story is just an incredible story
that was not being told and that there’s gotta
be a way to tell it. Both of my parents
went to HBCUs. There is no way that
they would’ve gone to college without HBCUs. So HBCUs not only
changed their lives, they changed my life, they
changed my kid’s life, and they’ll change
my kid’s kids’ lives, all down through
the generations. So HBCUs are very important
in my life personally and so many lives
of African American, and I thought it was just a
story that needed to be told. – And so when people see
this, at the end of the day, what is it you hope they
will walk away knowing about HBCUs and the experience? – [Stanley] Well, I
hope you will understand the long legacy of HBCUs,
how important HBCUs have been in creating not only the African
American society we know, but also in creating
the America that we know and creating the
world that we live in. You know, there’s been no
institution like HBCUs, and I hope that one of
the things that you get from the film is
an understanding of HBCUs’ importance
throughout the years. – Okay, Mr. Stanley,
we thank you so much. We know you have to go,
but we appreciate you for sharing just a
few minutes with us. And we appreciate
this documentary, and we wish you the
best in the future in all the other
endeavors that you have. – [Stanley] Thank you so much. I really appreciate
the chance to talk a little bit about the
film, thanks again. – All right, thank you. By the way, Nelson
is a recipient of the 2013 National
Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama, and he has also won
three primetime Emmys and is the recipient
of many awards as well. Congratulations
to him, and again, we thank Mr. Stanley
Nelson for joining us here on the AWARE! show. Coming up, we
introduce you to a few of our community leaders who
are affiliated with HBCUs. But first, let’s take a
watch and listen at this. (calm music) – Despite the violence
and intimidation, the shortage of
teachers and resources, the black colleges in
the South survived, and they began to produce
the first graduates, many of whom were
formerly enslaved. – General O.O. Howard, for whom
Howard University is named, he was going around
looking at the plight of African Americans, and
he ran across students, and he asked, “What
shall I tell the people “up north about the plight
of the former slaves?” And the 13-year-old
Richard Robert Wright rose and said, “Tell
them we’re rising.” (inspiring music) – And joining us now in
the studio to tell us how historically black
colleges and universities are still rising are my guests. They include Dr. Lusharon Wiley, director of culture
at Innisfree Hotels. Prior to that, she served
as a senior associate dean and director of case management at the University
of West Florida. Next, we have Mr. Reginald
Parker, an electrical engineer and the utilities and engineer
manager for Whiting Field. Currently, he is the president
of the Pensacola chapter of FAMU’s National
Alumni Association. We also have this lovely face. Dr. Shai Hall is a graduate
of Bethune-Cookman University and received her Doctorate
of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland. She has been
practicing dentistry for more than 20 years
and currently works with the Neighborhood Medical
Center providing dental care for the Tallahassee,
Florida, community. And last but certainly not
least is this familiar face to the AWARE! show,
David Alexander III, who retired as the
first African American chief of police for
the city of Pensacola. He is a now a business
and a community leader, and he serves as a role model for many of our youth
in the community. Thank you all for being
here on the AWARE! show, and my thought
that came to me was for all of you being role
models in the community as well. – Thank you.
– Thank you. – Thank you for having us here. – Yeah, thank you
for being here. You know what? I’m gonna say this just
of the top of the show. I was talking in the
green room to you all, and I was saying I missed having the African American experience at a HBCU school,
and then I realized, I did go to Bishop State
Community College in Mobile. – Yes.
– Oh, yes, all right. – So I was right in there,
(laughs) and you were, too. We’re talking about
“Tell Them We Are Rising” and the documentary
off the top of the show that Mr. Nelson was
able to produce. Just from the excerpts
and from perhaps maybe one or two of you watching
the documentary already, what are we thinking about
what he was able to present as the African American
experience of HBCUs? – Well, one of the things,
I think that it really, it spells out the
resilience that exists in the African American culture. But in addition, it also
lets the viewers know that going to
historic black college is a way to really
solidify the foundation for our younger
generation and give them appreciation for the
history and how to use that history to move forward. And I think it’s
something that I was able to pass on to my
kids and a lotta kids that I’ve talked to
that are now graduates from historic black colleges. – Very good, hopefully
if you haven’t seen this documentary, you
will, because it actually chronicles the HBCU
historical perspective from slavery all way
through until now. – Yes.
– And it’s so good because it really
helps you to understand and put into perspective
how all of this came to be, that it was necessary
to have HBCUs to give us an opportunity
to become educated in the higher education system. And for the most part,
that’s how we got educated was from people who got
educated at these HBCUs. They were teachers,
they were engineers, they were lawyers,
they became doctors. And so we benefited
from the contributions that they made to our community and to our lives,
and we still do. And you all are examples
of us continuing to, so again, thank you for
being on the AWARE! Show. I wanna talk about your
experiences, Reginald. And I’ll start with you and
where you went to school. We kind of mentioned it
at the top of the show, but tell us a little
bit about why you chose FAMU and your experience there. – Well, I was born and
raised here in Pensacola, and I graduated from Booker
T. Washington High School where I was the senior
class president. And both my twin brother
and I, we were both, we made a decision to go to
college and to become engineers. At that time, we didn’t
know much about FAMU at all, but one of our teachers
took us on a tour to the university, and as
soon as we got out the car, it just felt like family
and just felt like someplace we needed to be, so
we made the decision that this is where
we’re gonna do. We don’t know how
we’re gonna pay for it, but this is certainly something
that we wanna be a part of. And the president of the
university, Dr. Humphries, actually called our mom
and offered both of us a scholarship, and so we were
able to go to the university. And having that
experience at the HBCU, it afforded me the
opportunity to travel throughout 39 states in the
U.S., travel to 13 countries based on the employers
that I’ve worked with, the Navy, the Air
Force, manufacturing. So for me, the HBCU
has really been an eye-opening experience, and it’s been great for me
and my twin brother as well. – I love how you talk
about your HBCU experience taking you to places
that you may not have gone had you not had that. Tell us about that. – In addition to that, I
mean, I’ve gone to 39 states, I’ve gone to, working, I’ve
gone to London to work, I’ve gone to Mexico with work, I’ve gone to Canada with work. In addition to that, even
when I was at the university, I was able to meet such a
diverse group of people, not just African
American students but students from
all over the world, a number of different
walks of life. It’s just been an great
experience for me, so. – Gotcha, back to Lusharon? Come on in on this!
– Well, I went to the Tuskegee University. At that time, it was
Tuskegee Institute. However, during the time
that I graduated high school, integration was really new, and so for many of
us who had grown up in all-black communities and
gone to all-black K through 12, it was considered
the thing to do. In addition, acceptance
into historically white institutions,
while that was occurring, there was also a
lot of resistance. And many of you have
probably seen Wallace when he stood at the door of
the University of Alabama. So for us, for me, to be able
to go Tuskegee University, to know that I would
be in an environment where I was accepted
and that I had read about in the
books, so for me, at nine years old when I read
about Booker T. Washington and Dr. George
Washington Carver, I decided then, that’s
where I want to be. So it was a dream come true. – You go, girl. (laughs)
– Yeah, yes. Thank you, thank you. – I’ma come back
you in just a minute with some more questions.
– Okay. – But I’m gonna keep it moving. So we’ll give you an opportunity to tell about your
experience at Morehouse. – Well, actually, I
guess you could say I was mentored by
someone who had graduated from historic black college. My basketball coach,
Norm Ross, was a graduate at Alabama State, and
so he introduced me to the idea of going
to Morehouse College, which at that time, I was a
student as Escambia High School, and we were going through a lot of racial turmoil at the campus. So a lotta the
education about history of African Americans,
I really didn’t that. All I was dealing
with was the things that would happen on
a day-to-day basis. But when I did get to Morehouse, I really got a real good
lesson on black history, and what it did is, it
gave me the resilience. I came out of a community
that was pretty much racially mixed, and not
knowing then that there’ll be a greater demand
to be able to blend in a diverse community and
yet maintain your identity. So it gave me that
resilience I needed of going through the
black college experience. One thing I can tell, and I
passed this on to my kids, that you will learn how
to handle your business going to black colleges
because you didn’t have the fancy computers
that will print out everything for you, and
if you didn’t do things during the preregistration time, then you got in the
rat race of going from one building to the next because you were being
assisted by students. And most of the
time people that got their stuff done
during preregistration, they were already gotten
their IDs and their keys, and they were going to class. So that was something that
although I talked to my friends that have gone to other
historic black college, and it was the same thing. So that was something
I passed on to my kids, that learn how to
handle your business. And what it did, it built that
resilience you’re gonna need that as you face
obstacles in the workplace and changing from one job
or one career to the next, that you maintain
that resilience. You know how to survive,
it’s in your DNA. It’s been taught to
you over many years, over many decades through
those who have come before you. So I was there with Spike
Lee at Morehouse College, and he actually did a
movie about “School Daze” which kind of depicted
the college life and how you get that
resilience of surviving it. And I was just, like I say, I
was exposed to a lotta things that right here in Pensacola
I didn’t necessarily get. But when I came back, it made
me a different kind of leader. I can operate even today
with obstacles that may come from historically
difficult situations, racially charged,
socially charged, but I’m able to
navigate through it because of some of the
things that I’ve learned and picked up from
historical black college. – I live the practical
example that you give about having to navigate
your world at the HBCU to make sure you were
handling your business because it came with
some consequences if you didn’t.
– Yes, it did. – (laughing) I love it. – Most college
campuses were hot, and when you had to go from
financial aid to housing, from housing back to admissions, it was not a nice trip.
– Yes. – This will not
happen next semester. – And when I went
home, I was registered. All I had to do was sign my
name and get my room key. – [Dee Dee] That’s
good stuff, Shai? – Well, I’m born and raised
here in Pensacola, Florida, and have the DNA of
HBCU in my blood. I come from a
family of educators. So I always knew I was
gonna go to college, and it was gonna be HBCU. I was sharing with you earlier that I thought it was gonna
be Tuskegee University because most of my aunts and
cousins went to Tuskegee. I grew up going to
homecoming there. But I had a similar
experience as Reginald. The alumni association of
Bethune-Cookman College took a group of students
down to Daytona Beach, and my eyes were opened. I had great experience there
during basketball homecoming, and the rest is history. I said, “Mom, I’m
going to Daytona Beach. “I’m going to
Bethune-Cookman College.” And of course, she was
a little traumatized because it was six hours away, but it was a rich history
there, and I’m so glad I was afforded the opportunity
to get my education there. – That must’ve been very
difficult to be at Daytona Beach in school. (laughing)
– Oh, my goodness. – Yes.
– Yeah, challenging. – It was challenging, and I– – [Dee Dee] But then,
you’re from Pensacola. So the beach is–
– Yes, I’m from Pensacola. – [Dee Dee] Just as
challenging, right? – Yeah, yes.
– Yeah, you were used to it, right?
– I was used to it. I was a beach girl,
so I was just going back to another beach. – Gotta the love the beaches. All right, well, there are
101 HBCUs in the United States including both public
and private institutions. There are 12 in
Alabama and five here in the state of
Florida, that includes Florida Agricultural and
Mechanical University, and that’s where Reginald went. And he’s here to tell
us a little bit more about what was going on
there just a few weeks ago here in Pensacola
in terms of an event that was held here locally. – Yes, we just had on June 8th
at the Dr. E.S. Cobb Center, we had our annual
scholarship luncheon. And the purpose of that luncheon is we raise funds for
students from Escambia and Santa Rosa County who
are currently 12th graders who wanna enroll in
FAMU in the fall. So we do this every year. We also obtain sponsors. This year we were able
to give out $5,250 to three deserving students. We also had some
local performers. The Young Leaders of
Tomorrow performed as well as the Red Diamonds. In addition to that,
we were able to give everyone a meal as well. This is our fourth year
doing the annual luncheon. This is our second year doing it at the Dr. E.S. Cobb Center. And the guest speaker
at the luncheon, we were able to invite the
dean of Student Affairs from Florida A&M University,
Dr. William Hudson. And so he was our guest
speaker at the event. – [Dee Dee] And here’s
what he had to say. – HBCUs are important
because they have a legacy of producing great students and great members
of our society. If it were not for HBCUs, we
would have no black judges, lawyers, engineers,
architects, educators to help promote our
economy and this nation. We must continue to
support our HBCUs because they provide
an opportunity for students who
otherwise would not have an opportunity for
higher education. We are known for
turning students who
are thought of as coal into bright diamonds,
and we continue to do so. FAMU is the number one
producer of bachelor degrees for African Americans
in the United States. We are also the number
one producer of PhDs in the STEM area,
which is science, technology,
engineering, and math. We work collaboratively
with other universities, HBCUs and predominantly
white institutions, to further the education
of our great students and scholars throughout
the United States. – It’s no wonder that Dr. Hudson is in the video,
doing the soundbite, talking about FAMU being
number one producing this and number one producing that. You’re very proud, you all
are very proud of your HBCU. – Exactly, it’s like family. We actually use the word
FAMU-ly when we talk about FAMU. – You go! (laughs) That’s very good,
and I also wanna tell you a little
bit about this. I was a student at LeFlore
High School in Mobile, Alabama. – [Reginald] The Rattlers. – The Mighty Rattlers, the
Mighty Marching Rattlers. And of course, a lot
of what we learned came from FAMU and the Rattlers. – I’m sure some of the teachers
also came from FAMU, too. – For sure.
– Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. – So I definitely
benefited from FAMU and the contributions
that some of the graduates and some of the people
who just came back to teach us what they
knew from the band had to contribute to us, so– – That’s all right.
– Much love for FAMU. And I know this one over here– – Yes.
– (laughs) Is just dying to talk more about Tuskegee. – Yes, I am.
– The rivalry and the competitiveness
of all of these schools is a beautiful thing
because it’s not to be something that you
tear one another down. It’s actually building
one another up. I’ma let you say a little
bit about Tuskegee, and then we gonna come over here with Bethune-Cookman
and Morehouse. Go ahead on it.
– Well, by the time I finish talking–
– Here we go. She’s straightening
it up for us. – There may not be enough time. But I do want to say,
really, when we think about Pensacola and we think about Daniel Chappie
James Jr. to be, and I like to say this,
yes, he was the first African American
four-star general, but what we really
need to embrace is the fact that he was
a four-star general. – Yes.
– Because there are very few of those, and
his hometown is Pensacola, and his family
still resides here. So when we think
of Dr., I’m sorry, when we think of
General Chappie James, we also think about
the Tuskegee Airmen. We think about the
fact that Tuskegee was the only HBCU to have a VA that was at that institution, and it was the only one
that was fully staffed by all African Americans. As you know, the Tuskegee Airmen were also an all-black unit, and their triumphs
are well known. But we also had a
lotta fun at Tuskegee. So we had the Commodores,
and I happened to have been there when they
were still rocking it. So we not only have the STEM with the School of
Veterinary Medicine, which still produces today
more black veterinarians than any other school
combined in the nation. So yes, there’s a
place for what we do. And one of the things
that I do wanna say before I start
preaching is this. Whether it’s FAMU,
Howard, whatever the HBCU, one thing that our
children need to know is that they can
succeed, they do succeed, we believe that they can do it, and if you look
back historically, we were always good at
the math and sciences. So don’t hear voices
that tell you you can’t. – You can’t.
– You can. We believe in you,
and so do the HBCUs. – I love it a lot. (laughing) Thank you, go girl. What you gonna do
with that, Morehouse? – Well, you see–
– Yeah! – The thing about
it, at Morehouse, I was a basketball player, and
I had one of the worst games in my life in college basketball
at Tuskegee University. You remember the movie
“Carrie” where the voices she heard that they’re
all gonna laugh at you? When we played Tuskegee,
I got up off the ground during the game so many times that I felt like
I spent more time on the ground than I did,
but it was a tough game. And when I left
Tuskegee that night, I did not wanna see
Tuskegee ever again. But guess what, my son got a
scholarship to play basketball, also to pursue
engineering at Tuskegee. So Tuskegee wound up being one
of the greatest universities, historic black university, in
my heart because of the things they exposed him to–
– Excellent. – When he got there. He was so excited about
going after he had graduated from Pensacola State College. He picked up the book
“Up from Slavery,” and he read that book
before he even filled out the paperwork for
his scholarship. And so he has gone on to
get his bachelor’s degree in engineering, his
master’s in engineering, and he’s working down in Los
Alamos, the National Lab. And all of those teachers,
when you talk about families and historic black
colleges, it really is, it’s a true family
because those teachers invest in your future, and
they bring you into a network that’s not only statewide,
nationwide, but it’s worldwide. He’s gone all over in Africa
on engineering projects, and so even now, he’s gonna be at the University
of Texas El Paso in the fall pursuing his PhD. And one thing he’ll tell
you, and I hear him tell other relatives in the family that are thinking
about going to college, he tell ’em, you know,
“Handle your business.” And that’s why I said
they teach you not only to be resilient
but the networking but also the fun and camaraderie
just with the rivals. I mean, it’s exciting to,
I shoulda packed my bags with a lotta stuff
when I came here today because there’s
just so much stuff you can kinda talk
about that creates that camaraderie and
that competitiveness– – Yes.
– That exists, not just in the atmosphere
but then when they go out into the world into professions,
they remain competitive. – Good stuff, Shai? – Well, talking about
friendly competition and competitiveness– (all laughing) – Boom!
– Reginald and I are at rival schools,
FAMU and Bethune-Cookman. – Yes.
– We had a Florida Classic every year. I’m not gonna say that we’ve
won eight times straight. – [Reginald] You
have won a few times. (all laughing) – We did beat them also,
and they stopped playing us because we beat ’em two years
in a row, so what you got, what you got?
– See what I mean? – Okay, go ahead, I’m sorry. – But I just love HBCUs. I mean, we have
such a rich culture, and even when you talk
about the Commodores, it just brought back fond
memories of when I would go to homecoming as a little
girl with my aunts and cousins that went to school
with the Commodores. So I just love the richness
with HBCUs and their history. – And one of the things
that we wanna zoom in and focus on is something
that David just talked about, and that was that
fact that, you know, yeah, handling your
business and yes, you have the camaraderie, but
you also have the networking. And I wanted to zoom
in and focus on that because that’s big–
– Yes. – Amongst HBCUs grads,
alumni, that sort of thing. Let’s talk a little bit
about the networking and how helpful that’s
been in helping you all launch your careers and
meander and navigate the world. – Well, as an
example, for myself, I was ready to make a
transition from the industry I was working in to get
back here to Pensacola. And so a friend of
mine who happens to be from Howard University was
working for the Air Force, and he called me up and
said, “Hey, what do you think “about working for the
federal government?” So he gave me a call and had
me call someone from FAMU, a graduate of FAMU,
and within a month, I was working for the
federal government. – I love it.
– So networking, whether we go to the same
HBCU or different HBCUs, we’re always constantly
looking out for one another whether it’s an internship
or a permanent job or you’re later
on in your career, it’s just a matter
of knowing that hey, you went to an HBCU, so I
know you know your stuff. Here’s some
opportunities out here. If you’re qualified,
pursue those opportunities. And also in my personal
life, when I get ready to buy a new automobile,
I call my friends that work at the different
manufacturing plants. – [Lusharon] I hear you! – And they offer me their
friends and family discounts. So we use it not
only professionally but also at other
realms as well, so. – I think in addition
to, like you’re saying, to network in terms
of purchasing things
or job hunting, for me, because I
was a military wife, it was so important as we
moved from city to city and state to state that
I was able to connect because I did pledge a
sorority at Tuskegee, and so that was a big
deal because you do have like that culture
that’s already there. And it was just so
amazing that when I moved back here to Pensacola
that four of the people, well, three including
myself makes four, four of us all graduated
Tuskegee the same year. So it’s like especially
with some of us, we will just pick up
where we left off. And I think for me, it’s the
knowledge that you referenced, David, about what you
have to learn to do. So we’re not about
excuse-making. – [David] Right, absolutely. – [Lusharon] We’re about
getting the job done. – Getting the job done.
– Getting the business done. But also I always
feel supported. I think of people
in the community that I feel I can just
call at any point, even though they’re
different colleges and universities and
say I need your help. – Yes.
– And it’s gonna be there for me, so
that’s been another layer that has been so excellent. – I notice in “Tell
Them We Are Rising,” some of the people who
were in that documentary who actually went to
HBCUs talk about the love and care and the
encouragement that they got that helped develop
the drive in them and also gave them
what they needed to want to give
back and to mentor. So this is an experience
that just keeps on giving. – Exactly, exactly.
– Yeah, yeah. And David, networking for you
I’m sure has been important in the HBCU family
we’re talking about. – Yes, yes, because actually, this evening before I got here, when a couple found
out that my son was working at the
National Lab in Los Alamos where there’s a student
just recently graduated from University of West Florida, I just sent a text
message to my son and asked had he ran into
this young lady just started because she’s from the
University of West Florida. So you are able to tap into
so many different networks and the support that’s there. And you’d be surprised
just by one contact, you get exposed to
a whole plethora of different people that can
offer different things for you. Just recently, I made
it known I was running for a political office
here in Escambia County, and some of my
colleagues from Morehouse have already said that hey,
we’re gonna get together, and we’re gonna support
your campaign financially. So I’m getting campaign support
from outside of the area, and it comes from people
knowing what you do. And you know, I used to work
in the housing department at Morehouse, that was
one of my work-study jobs, and so I got to know
a lotta students. – [Lusharon] I did, too. – And it was also a way
to make sure (laughs) I had housing secured by the
time I got back to school, because you did not wanna be
in Atlanta without housing. – Oh, no, no. (laughs) – So but the networking is
awesome and the support. I mean, it is so,
and I didn’t realize that one of my high
school math teachers was a graduate of
Morehouse College. So you just, sometimes
you dig and you dig and even this discussion today, I’m gonna go back and do some
homework and some digging because you’d just be surprised, or you might not be surprised, of the residual networking
that takes place even generations down the road because people made
contact with each other. – [Dee Dee] Shai? – I definitely think
that networking has enhanced my profession,
and just your social skills. – Yes.
– When we’re at HBCUs, I mean, from freshman
year, you’re always going the some type of mixer,
you’re either pledging some type of sorority
or fraternity. So you’re always
in that environment when you can network and
enhance your social skills. And I just think back
with Mary McLeod Bethune, just was like the boss of
all bosses because she was networking to get funding
for Bethune-Cookman. She was working with
and networking with
the Rockefellers, Proctor & Gamble, the Gamble
from Proctor & Gamble, and even with HDR, you
know, and the president. So networking is
definitely a skill that all of us have learned
with HBCUs and has definitely afforded me a lot of
opportunities in my career. – Excellent, you know, I
think about my experience at Bishop State
Community College, and we’ve talked about
that encouragement and that love that
I got, the thing was is I was going to a
community college, so I didn’t have to go
that far away from home to do like most students
do, to get your basics, the math, the English, and
all of those types of things. So as I was going there, I
found that love and nurturing from HBCU graduates who
were there teaching. They almost had be about to
go to nursing school. (laughs) – [David] Yeah, yeah,
they will get you going and they’ll sign you up!
– I’m telling you, I was so excited about
not math, but science. I loved science,
anatomy and physiology. It was like part of
who I was, I thought. And of course, as it
went with my career, I stayed with broadcasting,
and it was rewarding. So I’m okay with that,
but even then, you know, I just enjoyed the
experience of being there. And I know the drive and the
love and the encouragement that you all are talking
about because I had that from several of the
instructors who went there, and they were
definitely HBCU grads. And if I started naming
you, I would miss somebody. – Oh, yeah.
– And I don’t wanna do that. – I love the open-door policy
that most HBCUs have as well. You know, I was in
the STEM program, it was science and math at
that time it was called. They had the open-door
policy where you can go in and talk to the professors,
so you had that blanket feel of okay, I belong here,
I’m being encouraged here. So I loved that aspect
of being at a HBCU. – Yes.
– Excellent, excellent, excellent. We talked also about the
African American-type gumbo you can get on a HBCU campus, and we’re not talking about
the soup that you eat. We’re talking about the one
that’s good for the soul. We’re talking about being
able to mix and mingle with other African Americans and find that we’re different
even within our own culture, and it’s important to embrace some of those
differences as well. Reginald?
– Yes, like I was able to rub shoulders brothers
and sisters from Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New
York, South Carolina, the Bahamas, Jamaica,
Nigeria, Namibia, and you get a chance
to learn about so many other cultures and so
many different foods, dances, everything,
all in one place. – All good.
– Yeah. But one of the things
I also appreciated was that the teachers,
the instructors, they were so down to earth
that they kept it real for you. I’ll never forget Dr.
Hefner, Dr. James Hefner. He was the department head for the Economics and
Accounting Department. And I thought when I
went off to college I wanted to be an accountant,
oh, my god, the misery. So after like the third
class, I was so far behind, he says, “I’d like to see you,
Mr. Alexander, after class.” So I stay in the class, he say, “Did you have accounting
in high school?” I said, “No, sir.” He said, “Had you had any
exposure to accounting at all?” I said, “No, sir.” He says, “Well, here, you need
to withdraw from this class. “We need to talk about
changing you major.” And I was sitting there like. (group laughing) So I mean, but he
was very honest, and I mean, that’s
something I appreciated. They were very real with
you about your career goals and your aspirations and
also your capabilities and what it was
gonna take to get you where you wanted to go. And that’s something
that every now and then, you need to do a
self-evaluation to find out are you really prepared to
go where you’re gonna go. And that’s one
think I can tell you that historic black colleges get you ready to go
out in the world. Yeah, you have a ton of fun. I will never forget
the step shows. I’ll never forget
campus being loud and never going
to sleep at night, but I’ll never forget
the lessons learned about surviving in life
and making good decisions. – Good stuff, and you also
just mentioned step shows. (laughs)
– Yes. – Now that’s the thing,
I mean, I should say that’s one of the big
things about an HBCU campus. You’re gonna have the
sororities and the fraternities, and you’re gonna
have to step shows. – Whoa, yes.
– And in some instances, they’re gonna be
competitions with other HBCUs and schools in the same
areas of those step shows. Does anybody wanna talk
about that before we get to a very special treat
we have just for you? – Well, I know in Atlanta,
you had Morris Brown, you had Morehouse, you had
Clark, and then on top of that, you had Georgia
State, Georgia Tech, you had Atlanta University,
so at any given time, anybody could have a line
or all of them had a line, and they would meet out
there in the courtyard area. And next thing you
know, what you thought was gonna be a boring weekend
wound up being like, whoa. So it was awesome. Like I said, when Spike Lee
did the movie “School Daze,” it kinda gave you a
little bit of that without naming out the actual
fraternities or sororities, but it was just a
clipping out of the life on the historic
black college campus. – It was Friday at 12 o’clock. – Thank you, thank you.
– You’re welcome. – Thank you.
– ‘Cause any wise man did not schedule classes
for after 12 o’clock. – There you go.
– That’s right. – ‘Cause you had to
get to the step show. And a little earlier, we
were joined in the studio by members of the Alpha
Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Epsilon Mu Lambda Chapter
Young Leaders of Tomorrow Mentoring Program,
and they performed this step presentation
just for you. – We are the brothers of the
Young Leaders of Tomorrow. YLT creed, I am the
seed of my ancestors. – I represent the past,
present, and future. – Success is not a option. – I’ll be the best
student I can. – I will surround myself
with positive forces. – To achieve my success. – We are, you know what? I’m gonna let my
brother tell you that. – [Group] Are, (hisses) are YLT, move! Are, (hissing) are YLT. – YLT mission: Achieve academic standards, build character,
and expose students to a varied number
of career options. – Resulting in them being
more prepared in life, thus allowing them
the opportunity to become productive
men in the community. – We do this through
four pillars: training sessions,
educational events, civic events, and
team-building exercises. – I heard that YLT
was just scholars. – Just scholars? – We scholars, but–
– We got our books, too. – I got books, too.
– We scholars, but– – You got a book, scholar?
– Listen. I heard that YLT was
just based on academics. – What?
– Like we don’t do anything else.
– What? – We got our books, though.
– We got our books! – We got our books, man.
– I got my books, though. – We got our books.
– We got those grades. – We got our books. – But listen, I
heard something else. – What you heard, man?
– What you heard? – What else?
– What you heard? – I heard that YLT can’t step. – Ooh!
– Can’t step? – We can’t?
– Can’t step? – I can do this.
– You can’t say that. – But listen, it’s okay.
– I mean, that’s doing it. – It’s okay, it’s okay. – We can do this. – I’ma show the people
a little something, and when I do this,
I’ma need y’all brothers to take notes, you got that? – Okay, all right.
– All right, man. – I can do that.
– You can do that? – You wanna lead?
– Okay, a little tutorial. – All right. – It goes a little
something like this. – Okay, okay, we can do that. – Can you do that?
– Yeah, yeah. – Let’s do it.
– Okay, yeah. – This is YL– – [Group] T! Move! This is YLT! Move! This is YLT! (both hissing) – [Both] (hissing) Whoo! (both hissing) – [Group] This is YLT! (hissing) (hissing) Whoo! (hissing) This is YLT! – (hissing) I love it
a lot, I can’t help it. – She’s gonna start–
– Do we have any– – She’s gonna start
a step show here. (all laughing) – The Dee Dee Sharp Step Show. No, no, no, no, no. In fact, I was Me
Phi Me in school. I didn’t do any pledging,
but I think some of you did. So let’s talk a
little bit about that. We had stepper too? – Yes.
– Let’s talk about it, Shai. – Just watching that video
gave me fond memories of practicing late at
night with my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,
and we had several step shows and won several step shows,
I have to say. (laughs) – [Dee Dee] If you
don’t say so yourself. – That’s right, right,
but it definitely helped create balance, you know,
with the HBCU experience because you definitely got your
studies done during the day, but you knew you
had to get them done so you can either
practice stepping at night or practice in any other event that was happening that night. But I loved the
experience of having that sorority and
fraternity feel. It have me chills when
I saw “School Daze” when I was a junior
in high school. And so I knew then,
okay, I’m gonna pledge when I get to college. – [Dee Dee] You were
gonna be a Delta. – Yes, I was gonna
be a Delta (laughs) after seeing “School Daze.” – Well, like you, I
pledged at Tuskegee, and I pledged Zeta,
but I was also the advisor for, the faculty
advisor for the Zeta chapter, undergraduate chapter at
University of West Florida for approximately 20
years, and our young ladies are magnificent
steppers and have won so many competitions,
it’s just unbelievable. We blow everybody
out of the water. – I can totally believe this.
– But what’s really, really, cool to talk
about what you said, Dr. Hall, was just the magic
of being in that environment. And something I said when
we were talking off camera in the green room
about what happens when I put my feet on
the ground of HBCUs, I feel as if all
the ancestors come and surround me and
want me to succeed, therefore, I must. And I think maybe
that’s something that we don’t get at all
colleges and universities that we go to, so the
relevance of an HBCU today has not diminished,
it has not diminished. I believe that there are spaces for historically white colleges as well as other colleges
and universities, but the place, the
special place of HBCUs that will lift that child
as Booker T. Washington said and continue to
unveil the ignorance of what you have
not been taught. Because it’s not just
about the academics. It’s about your total history
that helps you to fit in to this multicultural
and multifaceted world that we live in, and
I believe that HBCUs take the special time
to mentor students to ensure their
success academically and then socially
and politically. – I tell you what, I
have friends who’ve gone to Tuskegee and gotten
their degrees, okay, and other HBCUs as well. When they go out to
apply for a position and they say they’re graduates
of Tuskegee University or any of these schools,
they’re in there. It’s because I think people
have a respect of what is happening in these
institutions of higher learning. And Reginald, you even
mentioned a little while ago about how it helps even
in building your education to the next level, and you
experienced that, Shai, from going from Bethune-Cookman on to the University
of Maryland. – Yes. – Let’s talk a little
bit about that. – For an example–
– And David, you got the same thing
going on in your family. – Yeah, just jump in anytime. For example, my twin
brother, he went on to get his master’s from Georgia Tech. We’ve got dozens of friends
who’ve gone on to get an MBA at Michigan or a master’s
at College Park, Maryland. So it seems that the
HBCUs are still pertinent and needed because
they then launch you to a professional career
or an advanced degree, so. – Yeah, I definitely agree. And having that experience
at Bethune-Cookman, it definitely helped me be
a well-rounded applicant when I was applying for a
professional school afterwards. Because it afforded me the
experience of research, I was able to go to
our nation’s capital and present research from
Bethune-Cookman College, and I also had a summer
in Fisk University doing a STEM program there. So just having
those experiences, being able to put it
on your application, I was able to get into the
number one dental school in the country at
the time I applied. – And I said the
University of Maryland, but I wanna make sure–
– University of Maryland. It’s the university,
it’s a long name, it’s the University of
Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore College
of Dental Surgery. – That’s why I just said
the University of Maryland, and I’m glad you
said the rest of it because you deserve
the credentials because you earned
your degree from them. And we’re very proud of you
and all of you all here. David, you’ve mentioned,
too, that your son has gotten a great
education in the undergrad– – Absolutely.
– And he’s going on to bigger and better things. – And actually,
he’s in the fall, he’s gonna start at the
University of Texas El Paso. And one of the things
is that the professors that he worked with,
both in his undergrad and graduate level, have
been like mentors to him and introducing him to people from other historic
black colleges and also other
major universities. He received letters from
universities up north, out west, to come
and do his doctoral and even his master’s
studies with them, and that was very impressive,
I mean, to me it was. I was like, wow, man, I said, “You just tapped
into a network.” But it’s also, it’s
the credibility that these programs are
bringing to the table and people know about
it, so it’s not something we’re exaggerating
when we talk about it. They’re a real credential,
they’re a real relationship that exists out there
in corporate America, and they know where
you come from. And when you start mentioning
some of your professors, they know that you’ve
been trained by some
of the very best, and I think that speaks volumes. – Let me, I don’t wanna
make things negative, but would you all, we definitely
are saying that we know that historically black
college and universities are necessary, to the point
where we wanna continue the heritage and the legacy of these universities
and colleges. Let me ask you this,
what do you say to people who say it’s not
necessary to have a school that’s set aside now as an HBCU? – Well, I would
say, if you look at, and I don’t have the
exact numbers with me, but if you look at the
number of doctors, lawyers, dentists, judges, African
American ones, that is, if you look at that number
and you see that 50% of them graduated from an HBCU, if
you didn’t have the HBCU, where would they have,
that 50%, have come from? So I think they’re
definitely relevant and needed at this point. – I look at it from
a perspective of just
like every student have a more dominant
way of learning, going into college,
you don’t have, you have colleges
and universities that have to meet certain
accreditation standards, but at the same
time, it may not be culturally connectable
for the student. So what I think historic
black college does is allow the student
to connect in a way that otherwise they may
not ever be able to connect and learn, and actually learn and learn different
ways of learning so that when they go
to major universities that are traditionally
white universities, they’re not just there
in a different world. They know how to
make the transition. It’s kinda like learning a
foreign language sometimes. We talk about
cross-cultural training. It’s a way of
providing some sense of cross-cultural
training to our students, and it enhances their
learning experience, so. – And I think that
when you spoke earlier, Dr. Hall, you mentioned
about the sense of belonging. I think that Maslow tells us that one of the essentials
for life is belonging. You have to feel
that you belong. And so for me, I believe
that some students will be fine in
whatever environment. But for some others that
have to be nurtured along, that have to first of all
believe that you care, believe that I belong
so that my environment, the culture that is created is one that I will flourish in, and so I have to echo
what you’re saying. And too often, in
the work that I did for 24-plus years at the
University of West Florida, I got the opportunity to
talk with a lot of students to explore in depth with
them what are they feeling, how are they feeling
in the classroom, are they feeling that
they’re being challenged in a positive way, do they
feel like they belong, do they feel that
the instructor cares. If I know that you care, if I
know that you believe in me, if I feel that I belong, the likelihood of my
success will rise. – Yeah, you know, to that point, when I mentioned
about Dr. Hefner having that heart-to-heart to
me about my changing my major, by the way, I changed my
major five times, but– – [Dee Dee] At
least you’re honest. – But had I been at a
predominantly white college, I don’t think I could’ve
taken that the same way without thinking
it was a put-down based on the environment I had
come out of from high school, ’cause I had come out of a
racially charged environment, whereas the put-down was
something that was used, you know, the slurs
and all the myths. So it would’ve been
difficult for me to take that constructively
and as they say, you know, grab your
boots and lace ’em up and then get out there
and try it again. So I tried five different times. Finally I come into
law enforcement which is what my heart was
with in the first place, and I’d allowed other
people to sway me in a different direction,
so I wouldn’t have been able to take that, I don’t
think, as constructively if I had been at a
predominately white college. – At FAMU, we call it
excellence with caring, so. – Yeah.
– Gotcha, Shai? – Well, I’ll just say
that culture there to be yourself and be
comfortable with yourself and have your peers around you definitely helped the
situation because you were able to interact and have
that accountability with your peers
and the professors. So I definitely loved that
experience at the HBCUs that you were able to
have that camaraderie and that accountability
with your peers and feel comfortable
in that environment, because I came from a
predominantly white environment here in Pensacola, you know,
from elementary school, middle school, high school. And when I went to college,
it was a culture shock for me, but it was a great experience, and it definitely shaped me
into the woman I am today. – Any one of y’all could
do a easy recruitment to these institutions
where you went to school because of the genuine
love and the experiences that you share, and
you come from different perspectives in explicating
your experience. And so it’s very interesting
to hear you talk about that, and I almost feel like if
you didn’t go to an HBCU, you missed out on
something. (laughs) – You missed out on something.
– Well, word. – Well, I’ll tell you, you did. You’d be outside of
a good conversation. – I see!
(all laughing) Thank you, Bishop
State Community College because I can be inside this
conversation. (laughing) Closing comments, Reggie. – I would just say HBCUs,
whether it’s FAMU, BCC, or Tuskegee or Morehouse,
we all thrive on each other. We need BCC to continue to be, BCU to continue to
be there in order for FAMU to be strong,
and FAMU needs Tuskegee to be there as well.
– Absolutely. – So we’re all in this together. – [David] All in it together. – All good, that’s all
the time we have for now. I’d like to thank my guests
including film director Stanley Nelson, Jr.,
Dr. William Hudson, Jr., Dr. Wiley, Reginald
Parker, Dr. Hall, and former Pensacola police
chief David Alexander. They’re all examples
of the products from historically black
colleges and universities. Remember, a mind is a
terrible thing to waste, and all of the
contributions from HBCUs are worth the investment
for a brighter future. Get involved, support the cause, and embrace the legacy,
history, and heritage regarding the
contributions these schools continue to make
to our community, to our country,
and to our world. Be sure to catch us for
this and other shows on YouTube and at wsre.org. I’m Dee Dee Sharp saying
stay informed and stay aware. (rhythmic music)