Eighth Annual Black Male Initiative Summit


Photo by Gerald M. Maravanyika

A group of students who participated in the 8th Annual Black Male Initiative Summit.

Alexandra Radovic, Associate Editor

At the eighth annual Black Male Initiative Summit, AACC students and community members heard tips for success from a keynote speaker and won cash prizes.

Actor, author, songwriter, music producer and choreographer Derek Fonzworth Bently Watkins encouraged students to achieve their goals by setting a high bar of excellence for themselves.

“The speech taught me that I shouldn’t compare myself to others,” Bruce Adams, a fourth-year psychology student, said.

Watkins told students, “if you don’t manage your downtime you’ll damage your lifetime.”

Later in his speech, Watkins said he once got into a fashion awards show without a ticket by dressing the part and showing confidence.

Watkins also encouraged students to make friends and connections with people who are “going the same direction” they are.

“I need to focus more on my goals and center myself with people who will help me with my vision,” Juwon Ajayi, a third-year computer engineering student, said after the speech.

Watkins also touched upon the barriers he has faced as a black man in the entertainment industry.

“As an African-American male, I’ve always had to be four times as good,” Watkins said.

Although the event celebrated black males, Watkins said, “When I look at this room, I don’t see race or gender … I see CEOs.”

Following the speech, some attendants won prizes through a raffle. The prizes were $30 amazon and Uber gift cards, $25 gift cards for The Hawk’s Nest Grill & Deli, and a gift card that includes $300 toward one credit class.

The grand prize was an HP laptop.