Guest Post: The HRC HBCU Student Leadership and Career Summit Experience
November 3, 2011 by Donna Payne, Associate Director of Field Outreach
The following post is from Antonio B. Williams, a student leader at Norfolk State University:
On Thursday, October 27th, HRC held the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) LGBT Student Leadership and Career Summit. The program is a four day Summit for student leaders to develop our personal leadership and career skills. I arrived from Norfolk State University, not knowing what to expect. I met 28 other students I had never known from 13 different HBCU’s across the country. Attending the Summit has transformed and connected my heart and my mind. I learned so many things from so many different people. We spent four days: thinking, speaking, analyzing, feeling, breathing, hearing, observing, laughing, dancing, smiling, sleeping, eating, identifying, piecing, growing, loving, and being… together. We found the power of love and how it liberates, not binds one’s spirit. We grew to love one another’s hearts, minds, and souls wholly; separating the judgments of each other from the judgments of ourselves.
Reoccurring themes from the weekend included both discovery and love. There was the keynote speaker, Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who taught us how to be a leader; and Dr. Johnnetta Cole, who inspired us with words of wisdom. Our facilitators helped us identify our strengths. Corporate leaders from Google, Alcoa, and Goldman Sachs met with us about being out in the workplace and gave valued information on getting a job. Many discovered their true identities, many discovered the love for themselves, and many discovered the love that we possessed amongst each other.
I discovered how lost and afraid my people are. We are lost, because we seek a love that does not exist within the people we seek it from. We are lost, because of the straight paths we are forced to walk in the African American community. We are lost because, in the narrowness of society, we are not allowed to find ourselves. The HRC HBCU Summit provided a safe space and a boundless path that allowed us to find ourselves, each other, and a powerful connected voice that will soon lead the African American LGBTQ and Allies movement!
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