HBCU’s Lead Too!

            Students from several HBCUs received the chance of a lifetime this past weekend in Gloucester County, Virginia. I am blessed to be a part of The Emerging Leaders Program, Class of 2011-2012, thanks to a wonderful non-profit organization by the name of The Gloucester Institute. This program aims to serve as a way to assist current leaders with sharpening their speaking and writing skills to name a few.

I had the chance to represent Virginia Union University and the Royal Court as Miss Senior 2011-2012 along with the Student Government Association President Kiara Lee and Mr. Freshman 2011-2012, Brian Cruel. I was also able to create great connections with student leaders on other HBCU campuses including Virginia State University,  Norfolk State University, Hampton University, and additionally Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Gloucester Institute was founded by Mrs. Kay Coles James in 2005. TGI had also purchased Holly Knoll, the retirement home of the late Dr. Robert Russa Moton, in the same year. Dr. Moton was born in the ending years of slavery and was first taught by his mother who wanted him to have an education. He was then taught by his former Master’s youngest daughter after being caught one night; and the rest is history.

He went on to serve four US Presidents in his lifetime, delivered the keynote address at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, and later went on to  be the President of Hampton Institute, and later the Tuskegee Normal School after the death of his friend and mentor, Booker T. Washington, before retiring to Holly Knoll.

Mrs. James has a great vision to restore this location to the place it once was. If you view the website, you can see the plans in store for this great program and can receive more information on how to donate to this great cause.

This was our first time gathering as a family in our new home, which happens to be on both the Virginia and National Historic Registries. Over the weekend, an intelligent man by the name of Dr. Conway, also an instructor at Virginia State University spoke to us about legacy. Not only the legacy of Dr. Moton, but other unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, we are a part of a great legacy.

At the very place where we gathered, some of the greatest minds of the Black Community have come to discuss some of the issues we have faced, and create organizations such as the United Negro College Fund. This program enables us to gather one weekend out of the month, typically at the Holly Knoll Campus in Cappahosic, Virginia (located in Gloucester County, Virginia). The location of the house is absolutely breathtaking! 

The front of the house faces the York River and has a dock; many years ago it was not uncommon for visitors to travel by boat. In the front yard of this great plot of land is also a 200-year-old oak tree where Dr. King sat under and wrote part of his “I have a Dream” speech. If you could see the view from beneath the tree, you can see how such a dream could have been dreamt. (Photos courtesy of Brian Cruel.)

Nadejah Whitted
HBCU Buzz Staff Writer