Community Activist Kevin Powell inspires CSU students to learn
Community Activist Kevin Powell posed with the newly installed Student Government Association during his to visit Central State University. Powell served as the Freshman Convocation speaker recently. Front row l to r: Samantha Trotter (Senior Class President), D’onna Brown(Freshman Class President), Sarah Gibson (Student Activities Senator), DymonWhatley (Junior Class President), Cydni Brown (Multicultural Affairs Senator),Bianca Edwards (President), Kevin Powell (of course), Nasreen Rozier (Vice President), Theresa Bonner (Finance Chair), Courtland Love (Chief JusticeChair), Alexa Turner (Residence Life Senator), Courtni Minor (Public RelationsChair), and Jasmine Garner (Inter-organizational Council Senator) . Back row l to r: Zuriel Clark National Pan-Hellenic Senator), Iris Warren (Athletic Health and Awareness Senator), Kyree Rollins (Sophomore Class President), Lamar Cole (Student Affairs Senator), Everette Johnson (Academic Affairs Senator), Chidiobi Nwaga (Executive Secretary), and Norman Houston(Commuter Senator).
By Courtni Minor Student Intern
WILBERFORCE, OH – Kevin Powell, one of America’s leading political and cultural voices of the 21st century, was the first presenter for the Central State University Freshmen Convocation, held here recently. He is not only an acclaimed public speaker, community activist, an award winning writer, but a humble man who told Central State University students that “it was okay to be who you are because we are all family”. During the Convocation, Powell charged the 418 freshmen to understand self-love, to know who you are; and to participate in their education. “You need to read, study and travel. They go hand-in-hand,” he said.
Powell was also the keynote speaker in the Convocation Master Class. He had originally planned to lead a discussion on volunteerism, hip-hop, education and relationships. However, he was inspired to discuss “How to develop self-esteem?” when he was asked that question by a student on campus. The conversation was emotionally spirited as students found the information to be enlightening and beneficial to their own growth and development.
A product of a single-parent home, Powell understands the challenges some of students face. “People have to work on their self-esteem and believe in who they are no matter what the situation,” Powell explained. “I have seen this all over the world, people with careers and money who think they have it all together, when in reality they do not have it together. If you just stop and talk to someone, you can learn who they are and where they come from. You never know what someone is going through until you ask them, “How are you doing?” It is not just young folks and college students who have these [self-esteem] problems; it is about all people and who they truly are within.
Coming from very humble beginnings, Powell admits that he too has come a long ways. “If you would have told me 10, even five years ago that I would be at Central State University giving out my business cards, mentoring young people and helping my fellow man to strive and be better than me, I would have laughed at you. I was at lost point once upon of time and you know I had to delete all those sad Smokey Robinson songs off my iTunes and play some Jay Z and Kanye West music because I did not want to be at that point. I had to make it for my mother who raised me alone and never once did she give up on me, so why would I give up on myself.”
Although Powell ran for Congress in Brooklyn in 2008 and 2010, he says that part of his life is over and his focus is now on BKNation.org, an organization dedicated to building knowledge. BKNation.org is a movement of people from all backgrounds, combines grassroots activism, pop culture, technology, and social media to spark projects and campaigns led by the people, for the people.
When asked which University tenant of service, protocol and civility implemented by President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond describes him best? Powell quickly identified the service tenant. “I can’t imagine my life without giving back to other people, to my community. Look at today, the Master Class was a lot deeper than a presentation.
How can we help people to move forward when they are not happy within? When I get back to New York I plan on getting back to the grind with helping the community. This is what I do; this is my life.”
Powell may have been on our campus for six hours but his impact on the freshmen class will last a lifetime. He helped every student understand who they are and what they do does not go unnoticed. If you have no one at home to help you, do not feel alone because here at Central State University you have family.
Powell is a New Jersey native who graduated from Rutgers University. He is also the author or editor of 11 books, including his latest release, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays, a collection that examines American Leadership, politics and social issues.