On Saturday, Jan. 20, a Black Student Leadership Summit was held at Western Michigan University. This was the first time the summit took place. It was put together by WMU’s Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Hailey M. Mangrum. The summit lasted from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. in Sangren Hall. Approximately 75 students were in attendance..

It engaged the students on leadership, advocacy and legacy. This summit was a great way to network and learn things that could be very beneficial to black student life on campus and in the real world.

“I attended the summit because I honestly wanted to see what it was about,” Lynnelle Crutcher, a WMU junior, said.  “I’ve never heard of this before. I wanted to see what speakers were going to come and talk to us.” .

The summit began with registration where students received a Black Leadership Summit long sleeve t-shirt and a name tag. The students also received a pen and a notebook to take notes throughout the event.

The summit then broke out into different sessions. The students could choose which session to attend based on their interests. For the first break out session starting at approximately 11:00 a.m., the choices were as follows: “A Seat at the Table: Resiliency in White Spaces,” “Enduring Pain!? It’s Time for Healing” and “Empowering Black Voices: Tips for Understanding, Navigating, Combating, and Managing Racism at Predominately White Institutions.”

Around noon, there was lunch and a keynote speaker, Dr. William Pickard, a WMU alumnus and WMU Board Trustee. WMU President Dr. Edward Montgomery made an appearance and said a few words to the students at as well.

“The first thing in leadership to me is to be proactive,” Pickard said. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

He recommended that students read the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

The second part of the break out sessions consisted of the following: “#Black, Educated and Petty,” “Survival Guide to Being Black on Campus: Building a Road-Map for Success” and “Practical Application of Servant Leadership.”

“My favorite part about the summit was the ‘Black, educated and petty’ break off section because me being the petty person I am, I wanted to see how can you be an african american and be professionally petty in a workplace, while still showing people you are educated enough to have this job,” Crutcher said. “This section really showed how to balance the right amount of petty and the right amount of professionalism.”

The summit ended with a call to action section entitled “For the Culture — Becoming the Leader That You Would Follow” led by Yolonda Lavender. This session recalled the areas to focus on as an african american leader. Not only did black students attend this summit, so did other minority students.

There are no official plans of having another Black Student Leadership Summit.The plans to hold another one and when to hold it will be based on the feedback received from the students who attended.


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