Dennis Richmond Jr. is continuing to beat the drum for historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, and next month he plans to drop some jewels on his journey in a new book. Richmond titled the book ‘He Spoke at My School: An Educational Journey,’ explaining that now is the best time to release his book. “I’m in a good space in life right now,” he told HBCU Buzz. He graduated from Claflin University with a B.A. in African and African American Studies in 2017, and he graduated with his Master of Science in Education from Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. “I am 25-years-old, I don’t pay a lot of bills, and I’m substitute teaching until I obtain my teaching certification in New York,” Richmond said. “So I believe that this is the perfect time for me to do this.” Check out the interview with Richmond below.
Tommy G. Meade Jr.: What do you want readers to gain from your story?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: Some people might consider this book an autobiography, and other people might think this book is a memoir. Regardless, when people read it, I want them to walk away with a sense of encouragement. My experiences through education changed my life, and there are lessons that I learned through it all that can inspire others. I share those lessons in this book. Some things are as simple as hard working paying off. Other experiences, such as people dropping in and falling out of your life, are a bit more complicated.
Tommy G. Meade Jr. What’s your fondest memory of the black college experience?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: My fondest memory of the Black College Experience was when I realized the power of an HBCU. I could go to any other HBCU campus, South Carolina State University, Howard University, Tennessee State University, and have something in common with students. It was powerful. I was a part of something larger than myself is amazing.
Tommy G. Meade Jr.: Name some topics that will be addressed in the book?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: There are a lot of small topics addressed in the book. Some of the more essential topics are Black history, dealing with bullying, and wanting to drop out of college. The book starts with a portion of my family history from the 1700s. You learn about my ancestors from my 6th great grandmother Margaret “Peg,” to my 2nd great grandfather John Sherman Merritt, to me. I faced bullying in middle school for being different, and I talk about that a lot. I also talk about wanting to leave school. I think a lot of college students have had that thought before.
Tommy G. Meade Jr.: You’re known for your efforts to raise awareness about historically black colleges to students in the New York area, given that these institutions aren’t present there. Why do you keep beating the drums for HBCUs?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: Right. I still beat the drum for HBCUs because of that very reason. There are no HBCUs in New York, so I make sure that as many students as possible know about them. It is imperative that when high school guidance counselors talk about colleges, they talk about all colleges. You wouldn’t want to walk into a restaurant and learn that there’s only one thing on the menu. It’s the same with the college process. You should learn about different types of colleges, not just community colleges or schools in your particular state.
Tommy G. Meade Jr.: What sets you and your journey apart from the rest of the crowd?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: Going back to question number two about my fondest memory in college would answer this question. While I was a student at Claflin University, another fond memory that I have, and something that sets my journey apart from the rest of the crowd, was when I was awarded a scholarship. This scholarship wasn’t your regular scholarship. Back in 2015, I was awarded a $25,000 scholarship from the United Negro College Fund, UNCF. Not only did that scholarship change my life, but because I was one of the recipients of the award, I was featured on Black Entertainment Television, BET.
My journey resulted in a life-changing experience. A woman saw me on BET, and I ended up speaking at an event in my hometown of Yonkers, New York, and I got paid for it. Thanks to that same woman and some others with that organization, I also had a paid internship. The story goes on and on. That one scholarship changed my life forever. I would have never received that scholarship, had it not been for attending an HBCU.
Tommy G. Meade Jr.: Any advice for those planning to go to HBCU in the future?
Dennis Richmond Jr.: Of course. Where should I begin? I’m going to keep it simple. No matter what happens in life, and I do mean, no matter what happens in life, work hard. You might not look better than the next person. You might not dress better than the next person. You might not even be as popular as the next person. If you can outwork them though chances are, people will gravitate to you first. Especially if they know, you can help them.
Dennis Richmond, Jr., M.S.Ed., is a 25-year-old HBCU graduate from Yonkers, New York, and a contributor to HBCU Buzz.
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