On Tuesday October 24 at 11 A.M., award-winning journalist, social activist, and political commentator Jeff Johnson returned to Grambling State University as a keynote speaker at a program hosted by the Lyceum Program. The Lyceum Program is a leadership program that allows students to be more aware of various culture issues from an historical perspective.
Miss Grambling State University Jamesia Leonard delivered a powerful prayer followed by greetings from sophomore class president, Jeremy Smith.
SGA president Channing Gaulden was appointed to introduce Jeff Johnson. Gaulden gave the audience a brief description of Johnson, explaining his role in America and to the African-American community. Johnson is currently a national commentator on the Tom Joyner morning show, discussing topics like politics, social policy issues and entertainment.
Johnson’s speech was centered on leadership and accountability, as he expressed his concern in how African-American youth rely on entertainers and athletes to lead and influence them. However, all they have proven to do is get us excited only to leave us disappointed. “You are stupid if you expect them to lead you” he yelled. One student yelled back “You stupid!” which brought the room to laughter.
Keeping the attention of all with his powerful words, he explained that the only place Lil’ Wayne can lead the youth to is Best Buy or iTunes. He went into detail about the hypocrisy in Lil’ Wayne’s performance on the BET awards a few years ago singing the lyrics to “Every Girl”, while his daughter and her teenage friends danced on stage. Was she exempt from the song’s message?
Johnson touched on many thought-provoking issues and topics, including Barack Obama’s presidency. He expressed that many African Americans only voted for Obama because he was black, with no intent to ask for anything in return.
“Leadership is developed through institutional infrastructure”, Johnson said. He explained that many are quick to assume that they are producing a movement, when in actuality they really have no power at all or use their power in the wrong way. By pointing out the “Black church”, Megafest, and the “black elector”, he gave examples of how the three do not use their power for the right things.
The black church has always been a place of salvation and escape for all blacks. Everyone in the community was a part of the church, relying on it for everything from organization meetings to daycares. In our present society, the black church has become much more concerned with money, membership and new buildings rather than reaching out and actually making a difference like it has done before.
Johnson said that while Megafest gathers over 500, 000 blacks in one location, there is no conversation or planning to tackle issues on education or poverty. They have offerings but no altar calls.
“Why pay for power you can’t get? To build stuff you don’t need?”, asked Johnson. All his questions brought up valid points of what leadership in the African-American community really is.
Johnson ended his speech with a call to accountability and responsibility: “Will you change or will you chill?”
HBCU Buzz Staff Writer