The first men’s conference of the Black Male Initiative was held on campus last Thursday. It was entitled “The Gentleman’s Colloquy” and addressed the problems that black males face at GSU and in general.
Dr. Paul Bryant, vice president for Enrollment Management, spoke on the retention rate at Grambling State University. There is a seven percent rate at which males graduate in a four-year span. In addition, in a six-year span it increases to 17 percent. “Although it is an increase, it is not acceptable for males, let alone African-Americans,” Bryant said.
He said people come to college to “chill.” “You have to recognize that you’re in college….You’ve come to college for a higher education, not to chill,” said Bryant.
Edward Scott, a GSU retention specialist, organized this event. The purpose of the program is to retain freshmen males and help them to graduate in four years.
The speaker was Allen J. Bryson, an author, motivational speaker and educational specialist. “Fortifying the Foundation of a Meaningful Manhood” was the title of his message.
Bryson began his message with a poem called “It Just Ain’t,” which spoke about the perception of the African-American culture.
“In our culture we have bad perceptions based off of previous situations. Today, people believe in things they see and not what they know,” he said.
He also talked about redefining cool. Today cool is being a gangster, thug, or someone that’s overly popular, but as Bryson stated, “Gangsters don’t have chemistry homework.”
Bryson said the perception of cool is what young Black males see – gangsters glorified by the neighborhood kids and today’s rap music. “When people believe perceptions, you have to be aware that you’re letting people shape the way they want you to think and look,” he said.
“Cool should be based off of what you know, the knowledge you possess and the morals that compose your attitude,” Bryson said.
He said to be outstanding and accomplish something others failed to do. “Let’s take that 93 percent rate of failure to a 93 percent of success. Will you take on that challenge?”
He told the audience to have a focus in their lives, inspire people towards greatness and know that everything is not about them.
Scott said Bryson was selected because he is a dynamic speaker with an extraordinary way of presenting difficult information without losing the crowd. “He is young and energetic and can relate to the targeted audience,” he said.
Freshman Shelton Brown said, He encouraged us with his powerful and emotional poem. I truly believe that Mr. Bryson has been very influential to a lot of young men lives and has changed their definition of cool, Brown added.
Brown is a business management major from Bogalusa.
Francis Alcide said his favorite part was when Bryson said our words become thoughts; our thoughts become decisions; decisions become habits; habits form our character, and character defines our destiny.
“I loved this because it shows that something as simple as the words we speak can control something as big as our destiny. In other words, words are life-changing mechanisms,” said Alcide.