Both young men and women quietly filled half of the ground floor seating in Lee Hall Auditorium to hear about the “Quest for Manhood” Monday evening.
With only a 13-minute delay and a slide show malfunction, “A Quest for Manhood,” a seven men and two women panel discussion, proved to be a reinforcement of established ideas and an eye opener of new ways of thought according to one woman who attended.
Rachel Hill, a freshman business administration student from Orlando, said she knew it would be very informative and she wanted to find out how men perceived themselves and the traits they should possess.
Dr. Theodore Hemmingway, a FAMU professor for over 30 years, explained how unrealistic it may be to look to Africa for an answer, because their society is different from ours and in the stratified African society people know their roles, both men and women.
“A young person will learn their role in society and not be disruptive in any way, here in America, we don’t see that structure, like the Isley Brothers say, we do what we want to do,” Hemmingway said.
Dr. David Jackson, a FAMU professor and Chairman of the History Department, said that colonization in Africa prevented a way for us to analyze the situation.
Jackson said the African tribes had no names for some things, such as, old folk’s homes, and we didn’t seek to get rid of our old.
“African-American men have turned to Europe for examples for what it was to be successful in business, education and relationships,” Jackson said. “For the making of a man,* we look to other people to understand our manhood, and should look to ourselves.”
When asked about the definition of a man, Jackson explained that it starts from childhood and in the schools.
“We are dropping out because their is nothing to drop in for…African American children are forced to learn in an environment that does not reinforce who we are as a people,” Jackson said.
It was points like this, that brought Christina Jackson, a freshman English student form Orlando, to the discussion. Jackson said she wanted to hear the perspectives of African American men and how they struggle in our society, a thought she never considered before.
The audience gave applause to Dr. Yolanda Bogan, a FAMU professor and Interim Director of the Counseling and Assessment Center, when she finally made her first statement for the evening. Bogan said some women want a man that can provide a stable home and family life, who is dependable, willing to commit, faithful and educated about who he is.
“Women want a man that is secure and disciplined, it takes a lot to get up and do what you do,” Bogan said.
However, Dr. Andrew Jones, FAMU Chairman of the Math Department, focused on the things he learned as a child and said that his father taught him responsibility, how to be a success and wisdom – making a decision you don’t regret like learning and saving.
“We have to remember that we are labeled as a people and our weakest represent us,” Jones said.
Brian Perry, FAMU biology/pre-med student and Surgeon General of the Student Government Association, conceived the idea to have this meeting to dispel the negative stereotypes of African American men.
Perry, whose father was absent from his life wanted to give students the tools they needed to make a difference in their lives.
“I looked around in a classroom and there were more women than men, somewhere along the line we are losing our brothers,” Perry said.
Gregory Bacourt a senior Social Work student and President of the FAMU chapter of Progressive Black Men, Inc. joined in to help the cause.
“This is something our organization always thinks about…he presented the idea to us and a committee was created,” Bacourt said.
That committee included members from SGA, PMB and the Beta Nu Chapter Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Brandon Kiel, a senior business administration student from Los Angeles, sought to assist in the discussion as his way to reach out to his community.
“We need more seminars than talent shows a semester,” Kiel said.
Contact Shelli Green at ShelliGreen5@aol.com