It was an honor to interview Dennis Richmond, Jr., a 21 year old Yonkers, New York native. Richmond is the founder of The New York State Historically Black College and University Initiative.
Richmond, a rising senior at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, serves as the Chairman of The HBCU Foundation’s National Student Advisory Committee and is a 2015 recipient of the UNCF’s An Evening of Stars Scholarship in the amount of $25,000. His most recent accomplishment has been becoming a Who’s Who Among Students In American Universities & Colleges, Honoree.
We had a discussion on the great work he is doing in New York State. The conversation can be found below:
Robert: Tell me more about yourself. Who are you?
Dennis: My name is Dennis Richmond, Jr. and I am from Yonkers, New York. I am a rising senior at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I am an African American Studies major with a minor in education. I am an advanced genealogist and have traced my family back to the 1700s in New England. My family has been in New York for over 250 years. My family dates back to a woman named Margaret. She was called Peg by her slave owners. Her last owner freed her in 1800. I am extremely passionate about African and African-American history.
Robert: Why are you passionate about HBCUs?
Dennis: I currently attend Claflin University and I am projected to graduate in May 2017. I am passionate about HBCUs because a wide number of Americans are misinformed and uneducated about these institutions. A lot of people do not think that these institutions are relevant. Regardless of your political view or organization affiliation with any African American, HBCUs have laid the foundation for them to do what it is that they are doing today. HBCUs have played vital roles during the African American cultural phenomenon known as the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, kept the waters raging during the sit-ins and protests of the 1960s and reaffirmed African American beauty in the 1970s. I love HBCUs because HBCUs help create me. My relatives have been attending for over 50 years.
Robert: Tell me about your New York State Initiative for HBCUs. What are you trying to accomplish?
Dennis: The New York State Historical Black College and University Initiative was created to educate high school students about the benefits and educational opportunities afforded to them when they attend HBCUs. My goal is to enlighten students across the state of New York about these institutions, as there are none in the tri state area (NY, NJ, and CT). I am not from New Jersey or Connecticut, I am from New York, and that is why I advocate where I do. I do not want students to feel pressured to attend HBCUs, rather to just understand the various types of collegiate institutions that exist.
Robert: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Dennis: In ten years, 2026, I will be 31 years old. Wow! I see myself teaching at a school. I am uncertain as of now as to what type of school or what location. I see myself as one of the nation’s leading educational advocates. I look to turn The NYS HBCU Initiative into a non-profit organization and to have dozens of sponsors, I look to have obtained my bachelors in African and African American Studies, masters, and PhD, and I look to increase my current scholarship, The Dennis Richmond, Jr Scholarship For Black Excellence to at least $1,000.