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David Banner speaks at convocation

David Banner walked among and talked with the audience at GSU’s Black History Month Convocation. Courtesy photo

As David Banner maneuvered off the stage and meandered through the crowd, maintaining everyone’s attention, his main points included fixing the wide gap between generations and urged the audience to come together as the Black community. 

Banner readily admitted in his Feb. 20 appearance at the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center he was not delivering the usual convocation speech. 

He ended his speech with a small question and answer session, and gave away a few $100 dollar bills.

Lavell William Crump, better known as “David Banner,” is a rapper, record producer, and now an activist and philanthropist. He is a Mississippi native and Southern University graduate, where he was the Student Government Association president.

Banner began a master’s degree at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, but soon dropped out to pursue his career in music. Banner is best known for his songs “Like a Pimp,” “Get Like Me” and “Play.” 

He has also been featured on the big screen in productions such as “Ride Along,” “This Christmas” and “Empire.”

In this unorthodox convocation speech, he hit points most are reluctant to discuss, and was mobile the entire time. Banner noted the way many young people behave and dress as evidence of being  brainwashed. 

“We feel like a convocation has to be stiff or uniform,” Banner said. “I don’t believe that. I love the spirit of our people. We are emotion-filled people. We are talented people.” 

Banner said he believes in living in freedom and he wants to be a symbol of it, which is why he talks the way he does — freely. Banner feels as though he is in a place where he knows who he is and what his purpose in life is.

“I think I’ve always been [a civil activist] to a certain level. I don’t even like being called an activist. I’m an alpha male. Am I an activist? Only maybe, because most people don’t do [anything] at all.” 

Banner was awarded a Visionary Award by the National Black Caucus of the State Legislature in recognition of his work after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. He also testified before Congress at a hearing about racism and misogyny in hip hop music. 

After making his transition into the “new”, “woke” David Banner, supporters were unsure of his work, but that did not stop him.

“I created an album that’s called ‘The God Box’, but black people didn’t support it like I thought they should. Then I thought about it: I created the album because I believe that our people needed a level of consciousness. So if they were conscious, then I wouldn’t have needed to make the album.” 

Banner feels that broken communities are a primary issue. He said black people often struggle to come together because we need to figure out, “what do we agree on? What is that thing we want? What is that platform?”

But, before attempting to fix the community, the change must start within, he said. When it comes to transitioning into a better version of yourself, Banner said it starts with “you being okay with you. There are certain things I do now that a lot of people don’t understand. Be the best you and set some goals. If you don’t draw the line that you will not go over no matter what…I think it’s about finding out what you stand for, and no matter what the rest of the world does, you stand on it.”