The first installment of the Real Talk Drives Real Change tour kicked off in Washington D.C., where NewsOne and Chevrolet teamed up to foster a thought-provoking conversation about higher education in the Black community.
Civil rights leader Dr. Ben Chavis, renowned music engineer Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton, community and hip-hop activist Martha Diaz, and educator Dr. Francine Edwards all participated in a riveting panel moderated by entrepreneur Mike Muse. The honest conversation held at the historic Lincoln Theater between the panelists who each have ties to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) centered on the value of post-secondary education for Black people in particular.
“You can’t get freedom if you’re ignorant of your history,” Chavis, who attended St. Augustine University as an undergraduate student, said about the benefits of continuing education. “For me, education is the key to liberation.” Diaz, a scholar at Virginia Union University who is also a hip-hop archivist, built on Chavis’ sentiments by citing her own experience.”Artifacts are everything to history,” Diaz said. “We need that … to compare what was happening then to what is happening now.”
Edwards, who got her master’s degree from Bowie State University and her Ph.D. from Howard University before becoming deputy chief administrative officer at Delaware State University, underscored the importance and value of higher education in the Black community. But, Edwards said while noting how the pandemic has prompted questions about attending college, HBCUs need to reimagine how they teach students.
“We need to move away from the textbooks, bring in professors of practice so that they’re learning from people running the industries,” Edwards said.
Young Guru, who attended Howard and primarily works with people who do not have a college degree, agreed.
“Of course, the educational part of that I learned in school at Howard University is invaluable,” Young Guru said before adding: “What we’re not talking about is the social aspect of what I gained from Howard University. My base of who my friends are, my businesses, all of that come from the experiences that I got outside of class.”
Watch the conversation above. The Real Talk Drives Real Change tour arrives next at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on July 24, when panelists will discuss policy and justice reform.
You can get tickets for that, and subsequent stops on the Real Talk Drives Real Change tour by clicking here.
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