Florida A&M University held on Sunday its seventh annual Black Student Summit in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center. Panelists talked about relationships, love and sexuality at a student summit aimed at promoting black excellence.
Panelists included Carmen Wong Ulrich, Arthur Wylie, Jacqueline Del Rosario, Marc Williams, Devin T. Robinson X, Omar Tyree, Eve Wright and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Grammy award-winning artist and humanitarian John Legend led the event, which was hosted by the Student Government Association. Students unable to attend sent their questions via Twitter followed by #SBSS.
The audience remained attentive despite a low turnout and flawed audio. With "Black Excellence" as the night's theme, students took an interest once love and relationships entered into the conversation.
Devin T. Robinson X, an actor and founder of AIDS Awareness Poets, Inc., shifted the discussion to selecting the "right mate" after saying "men want to be the first and last in a woman's heart." The conversation stirred emotions between both sexes.
"Young people need to pay attention to the people they choose," Robinson X said. "You need to question whether or not you two are compatible right now."
The panelists were candid about failed relationships, sex and peer pressure. Carmen Wong Ulrich, a personal finance expert, encouraged students to talk about money before entering a relationship.
"Be aware of whom you're dating," Ulrich said. "Conversations about money and children need to be had before marriage. Please discuss each other's finances before you sign a pre-nup."
Vernescia Williams, 21, a junior political science student from Tampa, said she is keeping herself a top priority.
"What really hit me was the reality that men choose and we, as women, decide whether or not we're going to accept," Williams said. "It makes women more mindful of focusing on themselves and bettering themselves."
Other topics discussed included education, economics and politics. Students tweeted "feeling inspired" following the event.
Melanie Andrade, 20, a sophomore English student from Poinciana, Fla., admitted she cried during the summit.
"Dr. Hill's comment about Trayvon Martin really spoke to me," Andrade said. "I feel so passionate about these things because they are happening in our generation, and my own peers can't stop to acknowledge it."
FAMU student Forrest Drew Jenkins II, 23, an accounting student from Houston, said the panelists showed a genuine concern for students.
"I was blessed to have witnessed such a profound panel," Jenkins said. "Their answers were relevant, precise and intelligent. I felt like they really care about the hearts of black students."
FAMU held its first summit in 2005 following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.