119 years later, we still have a ways to go

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“Dear A&T, dear A&T, a monument indeed..,”HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Actually, this is more of a happy belated birthday as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race, as A&T was formerly known, was born on March 8, 1891.

From the day that A&T left its humble beginnings in the basement of Shaw University and moved to Greensboro, to the day that the original Dudley Building burned down in a fire in the early 1900’s, and even until now A&T has faced and overcome one challenge after another.

And while our legacy of overcoming obstacles and making social changes preceeds many of us, I find myself asking what challenges A&T will face and if, not how, it will overcome them.

I have a lot of faith in my soon to be Alma Mater, but I also know that there are some things on this campus that are going to be the death and destruction of a proud and promising institution if they are not corrected.

We must stop looking at the past, and specifically, move away from Feb. 1, 1960. It is great to celebrate and remember the monumentous achievements of the highly acclaimed A&T Four & Dr. Ronald E. McNair, but it is borderline rude to not adequately recognize and celebrate our other A&T alumni that have achieved in life. Anyone recogizne the name Janice Bryant Howroyd? Google her. She’s worth over $250 million dollars, and she is an A&T Alum.

She started the nations largest personell service, ACT-1, with her A&T degree, $1500, and a telephone.

What about Joe Dudley, President & CEO of Dudley Products, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of beauty products? Maybe  you know Royall Mack, the former Corporate Vice President of the Gillette Company. Maybe my sports fans will recognize the name of 2003 NFL Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea.

Most people don’t know, or have never even heard of, any of these people. If A&T is to progress any further, we must stop living in the 1960 mindset. No longer do students find themselves always having to make the direct fight with white America, and it’s not an abomination if the Aggies of today find themselves in an interracial relationship. Aggies have accomplished so much more than just civil rights. Let’s celebrate that.

We must also stop tearing down our own foundation. There are numerous administrators, professors, and support staff who, like most all people, are resistant and even opposed to common sense change.

What since does it make to have a technical campus whose website is only optimized for Internet Explorer when no one uses it? How can we survive when department chairpersons would rather bully and fire the professors that truly have the knowledge than admit that they are wrong, or ask for help?

Our students need a different type of education than what they are recieving. My own department is a perfect example. I know that most everyone in the journalism department has a Ph.D, and that is phenomenal. But it would be even better if more of them had current work experience, or were still working in the field and teaching us what they were learning themselves.

A&T has come a long way, it has grown, and it has made a name for itself. But we still have much further to go. We are only as good as we let ourselves be, and if we only let ourselves operate in the mindset of the past, we will never see another 119 years, which we are more than capable of. The road to 119 years is a long one, but just think about this; our last journey only started with a single step. Let’s leap this time.

  • Dexter R. Mullins