In honor of Black History Month, the African American Student Alliance hosted its annual Black Out Week last week, including speaker Mandla Kayise on Feb. 12. Kayise’s talk addressed “The Impact of Barack Obama on the Black Male Image.” Kayise is a UCLA alumnus who founded New World Education, a consulting practice for youth and community development.
As part of the University’s Black Out Week, the African American Alliance hosted New World Education Founder Mandla Kayise whose talk “The Impact of Barack Obama on the Black Male Image,” compared perceptions of black men in the 1980s and today.
Before a group of roughly 20 students and faculty in the West Dining Room, Kayise opened with thought-provoking and inspiring words.
“The most important history is the history we make today,” Kayise said.
His talk addressed the evolution of black men and the struggles to change society’s perception of black men.
Kayise proposed that a solution to improving the black male image involves taking a page out of Barack Obama’s book. He touched on Obama’s own struggles with self image – as half black and half white, raised by a white mother.
And he also talked about how Obama was influenced by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the anti-Apartheid movement of the 1980s .
“His entire background and story can be very instructional for people in general, of what’s possible here in the United States, and personally of what people can achieve against great odds,” said Kayise.
“I think that it is important for black males to understand that there is hope for succeeding” Kayise said.
The qualities that set Obama apart from other black males, Kayise said, include his ability to define who he was a black man and a leader – and of course his education.
“Education is a great equalizer and educational programs are critical,” Kayise said.
Finally Kayise, who knows Obama personally, talked of his own experience with the president.
On first encounter Kayise said that he was skeptical of Obama and what he stood for.
“I could (have) probably named 10 other black leaders that could speak better than Obama, but what set him apart was a genuineness in the way he spoke about issues, that he really wanted to help and change America for the better” Kayise said.
Kayise ended his presentation with inspiring words of wisdom conveying that if there is something we can take from Barack Obama it is: If you want something bad enough and you are willing to work hard enough, your goals can be achieved.
“Embrace the notion of empowerment” and “commit yourself to growth and development and always have a concrete plan of action,” Kayise said.
Kayise’s organization, New World Education, provides education and youth development services, training and products for individuals, groups, schools, organizations and institutions.
Kayise has been a leader and motivational speaker for the past 15 years and has spoken all over the nation including universities such as UCLA, the University of Southern California and Stanford.
Kayise also works with inner-city kids in Los Angeles helping them form better educational opportunities through scholarships and by promoting better life opportunities as well.
“I think his speech was absolutely awesome, amazing,” said Toya Johnson Moore, a senior criminology major and president of the African American Student Alliance.
“It is a really rewarding experience to have Kayise come speak and inspire other black males to be a voice on campus and outside of campus,” Jazmyne Lewis said.
Black Out Week, which went this year from Feb. 9-11, is the University’s annuals observance of Black History Month.
It is sponsored by the African American Student Alliance, which hosts various events throughout the week.
Some of the events included a gender role discussion on Feb. 10 and the club fair contest.
The club also passed out Black History Month dogtags during the week.
Aaron Braunwalder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.