Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

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Student Life hosts male empowerment event: Legacy Builder’s Planning Conference

Justin B. Freeman
Alabama State University male students listened carefully as the guest speaker, Keith L. Brown, encouraged them to become scholars and recognize their worth and to strive for excellence.

Alabama State University’s commitment to fostering personal growth and academic achievement among its male student populations was prominently displayed during its recent three-day event, the Legacy Builder’s Planning Conference. Held from Feb. 21 to 23, the conference, organized by the Office of Student Life, provided a platform for engaging sessions, inspiring speakers and opportunities for the university’s young men to develop personally and professionally.

The event kicked off with a warm welcome as attendees were greeted with light h’orderves and refreshments upon arrival. Each participant was required to sign in, an action that not only marked their presence but also entered them into a raffle with exciting prizes.

The first day featured guest speaker Keith L. Brown, a recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and renowned author known as “Mr. I’m Possible.” Brown’s address focused on empowering the young men of the university, encouraging them to recognize their worth and strive for excellence in all endeavors.

“We have to be committed to get more scholars, not students,” he said.  “Anyone can be a student. Commitment is to do what you said you’re going to do long after the mood to set it in has left you.  Instead of proving people wrong, prove God and yourself right … To be an advocate, you have to publicly be for something. I need you all to be co-conspirators, not allies. A co-conspirator will roll up their sleeves and fight with you, show up to all the programs and not just the parties.”

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More than just a series of talks and activities, the Legacy Builder’s Planning Conference served as a stepping stone towards the establishment of a four-year men’s achievement program at the university. Setting the tone for the event, organizers posed a thought-provoking question: “If Alabama State University could create its own student, the best student that it could create, what resources would Alabama State University give to that student?”

Throughout the conference, attendees were privileged to hear from accomplished speakers who shared their wisdom and experiences. Notable among them was senior Muhammad Ali, who is pursuing degrees in both theater and political science. Reflecting on his journey at the university, Ali emphasized the importance of purpose and making a lasting impact.

“The reason I’m saying these things to you all is because I’ve walked the same halls, lived in some of the same dorms and had some of the same experiences … A man without purpose is just an empty vessel. You have to have a purpose, it’s not about what everyone else is doing. How can you walk into a room as a man and make people feel your presence?” Ali said.

One of the highlights of the conference was the chance for attendees to win a laptop through a raffle draw upon signing in. Additionally, those who committed to attending all three days stood the chance to win substantial rewards, including $250 and $1000 worth of “flex,” a currency utilized on campus.

Attendees seemed to leave the conference inspired and motivated, as evidenced by the enthusiastic response from students like Niricha Williams, a senior majoring in criminal justice, who praised the event for its impact on the campus community.

“It brought a lot of motivation to the Black men on campus, especially the freshmen that attended. I’m very proud that there was a lot of crowd engagement from all that attended, and not just the upperclassmen. I’m very happy about how the event turned out overall,” Williams said.

Reflecting on the conference, Tyrin Moorer, a junior majoring in finance, emphasized the importance of not letting others dictate one’s path to success. He stressed the significance of laying a solid foundation and leaving behind a meaningful legacy.

“One thing that I took away from this event is to stop taking a no from someone who’s not qualified to tell you no,” he said.  “A lot of times we try to please people since we’re people pleasers naturally. We want to please others and do things that are acceptable to them, but you’re not on my level, so you can’t tell me what to do … The first step to building your legacy is knowing your foundation. Once you know your foundation, you know what people want to remember you for … When I leave this earth I want people to know that I love the Lord, I love people and I love to serve. That’s my foundation,” Moorer said.

Similarly, Thomas Bryant, a senior majoring in computer science, expressed his appreciation for the conference’s focus on topics often overlooked, particularly within the context of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). He outlined qualities he believes define a “B.A.M.A. man,” underscoring the importance of persistence, dedication and thoughtfulness.

“I really enjoyed the men’s conference today and the guest speaker, Keith Brown. I really think he gave an insight on topics that men don’t feel comfortable talking about, especially here at a HBCU. He helped understand what it really means to be a B.A.M.A. man. Three qualities I believe make a ‘B.A.M.A. man’ are persistence, dedication and being thoughtful. You always have to be thoughtful about everyone around you, and we want ASU men to strive for these amazing qualities so they can accelerate to higher standpoints in their life,” said Bryant.

Keith L. Brown, reflecting on his role as a mentor, expressed profound pride in witnessing how his mentee, Jason D. Etheridge, director of Student Life at the university, inspires and empowers others.

“I could break down in tears watching Mr. Jason Ethridge who loves Alabama State, who I’ve watched grow, not only as an educator and administrator but as a speaker all around his life. I’m inspired and powered by watching him inspire and power all these young men that came out tonight and thousands more who did not come out. It does my heart good to see him living out his purpose with purpose on purpose,” Brown said.

Brown shared his own journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, and emphasized the importance of discovering one’s purpose in life.

“My past is what inspires me to inspire others like these young men today,” he said.  “Being labeled special ed., being labeled at risk and growing up in that. Knowing I had a village of strong Black men that uplifted me is what made me figure out my calling. Not a perfect Black man, but one that can be transparent.”

Brown left the men of the university with an acronym he created, “B.A.M.A. man” and a powerful reminder.

“The acronym that I created tonight are the qualities that make a ‘B.A.M.A. man,” Brown said. “Brothers, Advocating, Motivating and Accelerating the legacy of 1867. I believe these young men must advocate for each other, uplift one another, have love and support each other and be their brothers’ keeper… There are two great days in your life. When you’re born and when you discover your why.”


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