I could wax poetic about all of the informative engaging sessions I attended and the inspiring speakers I heard, but the most significant part of my first ACPA 2015 was in between all of the networking, panel discussions, and power point presentations.
As I was fast walking between the Tampa Bay Convention Center and one of the conference hotels trying not to be late I heard someone say, “Hey young sister where are you coming from?” The man had an open face and my Momma always taught me that when someone speaks to you it’s respectful to give them your attention, especially someone older than you. I told him I was from North Carolina and a student. He leaned his head back and said, “Well you know back in 1964, when I was a bit younger, I went to school at Johnson C. Smith University, The Golden Bulls!” I told him that I was from Charlotte, NC where the Johnson C. Smith, a historically Black University, is located and I grew up not too far away from the campus. When I told him I attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh he stopped and smirked saying, “Well you know that school wasn’t too much of an option for me back then.” I nodded knowingly and after exchanging goodbyes I went along my way.
I am still in reflection. That experience for me was so humbling. In that moment, I was brought back to the reality that the school I hold so closely to my heart and want to give back to so much at one point fought tooth and nail so I would not be able to attend. It shows how far we have come but that I also stand on the shoulders of giants so I can help those coming behind me. There lies my purpose, there lies my reason for choosing student affairs, there lies my commitment to Sankofa. I must reach back and bring those behind me forward so that they may reap the benefits of my work.
The March on Selma’s 50th anniversary has just passed, and with the videos depicting our students reciting bigoted chants in the news, it shows even more that the work I want to do is not done and I have no time to rest. The work must be done now. It is urgent. I did not catch the name of the man I stopped to talk with, as the interaction was only two minutes at the most. But I will hold that with me anytime I feel my self getting caught up and need a reality check.