RULES For Black Men 2011


It was my distinct honor to serve as the Keynote Speaker for the RULES for Black Men Symposium on the campus of Morgan State University on 11.19.11.  This was the second annual event presented by the Pi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and S.M.O.O.T.H. (Strong Men Overcoming Obstacles Through Hard-work).

From the Itinerary:

Mission Statement: To address obstacles unique to underrepresented male groups through collaborative building and networking by way of activism and social accountability within our campus and surrounding communities.

Aim: Empowerment through group learning, building and brotherhood.

The symposium was well attended by men ranging in age from eight years old to adults.  The symposium began in the morning with a welcome video and panel discussion, followed by breakout sessions for youth (16 years old and younger) and adults (17 and older).  A relaxing lunch (accompanied by an informative video by the Brothers of the Pi Chapter and the members of SMOOTH discussing their organizations) was followed by further breakout sessions.  The topics included: “Leadership and Power,” “Fatherhood Initiative” and “What’s Your Perception?” among others.  I had the opportunity to sit in on many of the workshops, and the gentlemen who presented were all dynamic and brought home thought-provoking and challenging themes to the men who listened intently.

My keynote address was titled: “How Do You Turn a Little Into an X, and an X into a Black Man?”  The focus of my address was self-awareness through understanding of the past and connection to others, and taking responsibility for shaping and defining “the X factor” the Black man represents in 2011 America.  We closed out the symposium together in the Calvin and Tina Tyler Ballroom of the Student Center.

Several gentlemen I spoke to at the symposium noted that women they knew made a point of communicating to them the spiritual and cultural power of this event.  To underscore the importance of men coming together with the purpose of teaching, learning and growing as only we can do for each other, I’m including here a communication I received that morning from a mother on a social media outlet:

Good Morning Steve. I am on my way to drop off my Only Son (name deleted). I am praying that this will be the thing that he needs to open his mind to the possibilities for young Black men…. May God Bless this event…

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you and kudos to Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., S.M.O.O.T.H., Morgan State University staff (with a special thanks to Natasha Lewis for all you do!), the wonderful presenters, corporate sponsors, and of course, the gentlemen who chose to be there as an engaged audience.

To close, here are the RULES for Black Men:

R: Restore your community by leading others and inspiring change.

U: Uplift your peers during times of hardship.

L: Let no one deny you of your rights: education, freedom and success.

E: Excellence is the standard of our endeavors.  Strive for excellence in all that you do.

S: Stay humble in the midst of your success.  Humility is the key to continued success.

Now that you know the rules…will you follow them?

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