Summit inspires a new organization

A group of Student Government Association members inspired by the State of the Black Student Summit created the Thomas DeSaille Leadership Institute to motivate members of the Florida A&M University community and Tallahassee community as a whole. 

SGA members and interested students held the first think tank meeting Wednesday night to create a foundation that will inspire people financially, economically and socially. 

After listening to students’ concerns during the summit in September, SGA Vice President Phillip Agnew; Secretary of Communications Alexia Robinson and Secretary of Academic Affairs, Shevrin Jones, created a think tank that they hope will become the blueprint for many generations. 

The institute is an organization made up of individuals who do research on a series of topics. The institute’s primary groups will cover popular culture, health, leadership and economic empowerment;however, the organizers are open to all ideas.

After seeing a large number of FAMU students attend the summit, Robinson, 23, a senior journalism student from Jacksonville, said she knew the forum was beneficial to students who wanted to learn more about issues plaguing the black community. 

Robinson said there is a need to host events that will last beyond the summit. 

“Students, as well as national people, are expecting more from FAMU after the summit,” Robinson said.  “This is a foundation that does things outside the University.  It’s not a black issue or a FAMU issue, but this will reach out to different societies.  Black issues are everyone’s issues. We must educate ourselves, as well as others.”   

The institute will invite students from Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College to participate in upcoming events.

Students can expect an event, called Project 1887, which will be a two-day workshop and seminars that will teach students about the struggles throughout FAMU’s legacy. 

The organizers also plan to have a part two of the State of the Black Student Summit, next semester.

Institute creators invited Cousin Jeff, a personality on BET’s Rap City who participated in the summit, to host a leadership member training session in December.

Jones, 22, a senior chemistry student from Hollywood, said he believes giving back to the students and community will make people achieve higher dreams.

“SGA is about giving, Jones said.  “This foundation will give our students brain food- soul food for the mind.”

SGA President Ramon Alexander, 21, agreed.

“This institute is about stimulating action,” said Alexander, a senior political science student from Tallahassee.  “If you can control a person’s thoughts, then you can control their mind.  We plan to effect change within the University’s students, as well as the community.”

The organizers decided to name the institute after Thomas DeSaille Tucker, FAMU’s first president, to acknowledge what he did for the University’s legacy. 

Agnew, 20, a junior business administration student from Chicago, said he believes the name will help people identify the institute with FAMU.

He does not want the institute to lack input from the student body.

“As a black leader, I felt that it is important to get as much student input as possible because you cannot change the future without changing the present,” Agnew said.

Ultimately the institute’s creators said they don’t want the enlightening thoughts and knowledge at the summit to go to waste.  They expect the institute to progress and positively transform students on campus and in the community. 

SGA Comptroller Joycelyn Morris, 22, a student from West Palm Beach, praised the foundation’s organizers for trying to find solutions to help blacks and others overcome the myths about the black community.

“It’s the first step of many efforts to make a change in the community,” Morris, a graduate business administration student said. “And FAMU needs changing.”

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