Legacy Lecture Series moderator Judge Glenda Hatchett, far right, speaks during Monday evening’s panel discussion at Albany State University. Joining Hatchell on the dais are, from left, attorney Al Dotson, actor Emmanuel Lewis and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
ALBANY -- The 2012 Legacy Lectures Spring Tour sponsored by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, swung through Albany State University Monday evening on the third leg of a nine-college trip to promote "Strengthening HBCUs (Historically Black College and Universities) to Meet the Needs of the Future."
The visiting five panelists for the series included attorney Albert Dotson Jr., chairman, 100 Black Men of America, Inc.; actor Emmanuel Lewis of "Webster" fame; William Pickard, CEO, Global Automotive Alliance; Ashleigh Taylor, Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and Judge Glenda Hatchett, of the Judge Hatchett television show.
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard also sat in on the panel, which focused on helping position students for leadership roles through education and mentoring.
The evening opened with commentary on Pell Grant reductions, some of which will be felt this summer -- a topic that immediately struck a chord with the young audience.
"As young people you have no idea of the power you have as a group," Dotson said. "As the new economy rolls out, your creativity, not Pell Grants, will help you carry on. Don't just sit back and wait for something to happen."
"You have to create a buzz on blogs and on legislators' e-mail and phone lines," the former "Webster" said. "Get their attention, but you'll have to convince them that it will behoove them to listen."
Dotson quickly followed, telling the students, "you need to reach out to your fellow students at HBCUs, use your networks, speak in a single voice of a single issue."
The discussion then shifted to the topic of November's upcoming elections.
"I think it's time for us to get past the step-shows and the parties and begin to hold our elected officials accountable," said Taylor.
Hatchett, who moderated the evening's discussion, then added, "also think about this ... if we ask for more of others are we also willing to do more for HBCUs? Are you willing to lift as you climb?"
The judge urged the students to make a choice to help themselves.
"Make a decision now, are you going to be a victim or victorious? There is no in-between and you can't have it both ways." Hatchett asked. "And remember that it is not enough for us to soar if our brothers and sisters are suffering."
One of the students in the room asked the panel how much can actually be accomplished by "selfish" students?
"Well, you in this room get to decide if you are going to be part of this 'selfish society?'" Dotson said. "How are you going to make HBCUs thrive and our community thrive along with them? Become role models because you can be anything you want to be is you have pride, dedication and drive."
The lecture series will close out its final leg later this month at Fort Valley State University.