Dr. Steve Perry remarks on diversity, education in keynote address - The Herald: News

Dr. Steve Perry remarks on diversity, education in keynote address

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  • Dr. Steve Perry

    Dr. Steve Perry candidly answers questions submitted via Twitter after his uplifting and admonishing talk to students on Feb. 29.

Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2016 11:35 am

All eyes were on Dr. Steve Perry in Centennial Hall Monday as he encouraged attendees, including members of the A-State Sun Belt Championship football team, to be champions.

During his more than 60-minute lecture titled “All Eyes On Me,” Perry spoke often about doing your best and being champions, in spite of adversities. Perry was the keynote speaker for this year’s Black History Month program. He is the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut and a leader in education reform, especially for the disenfranchised youth.

Of all the possible guests, “Steve Perry was chosen because of his undeniable impact on the African American community in regards to education, and the impact he’s had on the African American youth,” said Tirrany Thurmond, director of the Multicultural Center. The purpose of bringing Perry to A-State was to have those who attend “leave with curiosity and feel empowered,” and to create a “greater sense of self,” Thurmond said.

Meanwhile, Perry argued for students to be fighters, overcoming the struggles and beating the odds. Perry promotes the belief that regardless of race, gender or where you grew up, everybody has what it takes to be a champion and then added, “Too many of us are comfortable with participation trophies. Don’t just show up. It’s about overcoming adversity.” The biggest fight champions face “is not on the outside, it’s on the inside. True champions fill themselves with images that inspire them.”

When talking about the education system, particularly among the minority communities, he said, “There’s a cultural idea that poor kids don’t want to go to college. Have you asked them?”

Popular culture has said poor urban youth want to stay in the hood. But he combats this statement with his own story. Perry was raised in a poor community. His mother was 16 when he was born. He received a poor education early on, but there was one teacher who focused her attention on him. Perry seized the opportunity and went to college. He finally obtained his doctorate in education and started his own school system for under privileged youth. The listeners could hear the passion in his voice as he relayed his life story.

Perry said, “We could talk about the system,” but “we have to fight to overcome. Put yourself in a position to win.” Either “you will make black history, or you will be black history,” Perry told the audience, “make your own opportunities, don’t wait for them.”

After Perry addressed the audience, people submitted questions via Twitter using #askdrsteveperry. One question was, “How do white people help change the course of black history?” Perry responded, “fight laws that are hurting black people. Fight for school choice. You should not be forced to go to a failed school.”

As the people filed out of Centennial Hall at the end of his lecture, one student, Brittney Blake, a junior sociology major, reflected on her greatest take away. 

“Inequality is not the determining fact of success in our lives.”

Another student, Mark Winn, an undeclared freshman, remarked about his changed perspective on education. “I did not realize how much of a disadvantage minorities face in the education system.

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