Broadcasting his nationwide show from the Clemson University Clemson Men of Color Summit, Tom Joyner welcomed Clemson President Jim Clements and Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill.
“This is a party with a purpose that I love,” Joyner said, praising the university for staging the inaugural summit and congratulating the school on the progress it’s made in boosting enrollment of African Americans, Latinos and Asians at Clemson.
Clements described the university’s mission as making a difference in lives, and a “place where we want everyone to feel welcome.”
“We have an educational gap in this country and we have a responsibility to work hard to close that gap,” he told Joyner.
Clements said that meeting the university’s goals for boosting minority student enrollment means that efforts have “got to be intentional and it’s got to be strategic.”
Gill told Joyner that more than 1,600 had registered for the two-day summit at the TD Convention Center in Greenville held Thursday and Friday, and if more want to come “we’ll find a seat for them.”
Gill said participants include students, scholars, professionals from around the country representing 27 different states. The event will expose 9th through 11th grade African American and Hispanic males to a variety of role models and new ways of thinking about college education and their futures.
In addition to the six keynote speakers, others will conduct concurrent breakout sessions throughout the two days.
“These young men have an opportunity to engage one-on-one with some of these speakers,” Gill said.
During the Tom Joyner Morning Show broadcast, singer-songwriter and actress Letoya Luckett performed live for the audience. Luckett was a member of Destiny’s Child.
The summit presented by Clemson’s Office of Inclusion and Equity is designed to help close the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic males from cradle to career success by emphasizing the importance of education, best practices and choices to increase high school and college graduation rates. Clemson University is launching this major initiative to foster a more inclusive, supportive, and diverse South Carolina.
Keynote speakers include Tavis Smiley, host of the PBS late-night television talk show “Tavis Smiley”; John Quiñones, host of the ABC newsmagazine “What Would You Do?”; Roy Jones, executive director of Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER program; Desmond Howard, ESPN college football analyst; Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; and David J. Johns, former executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will hold a special breakout session during the summit’s second day. Scott grew up in a single-parent household mired in poverty, and was at one point on the verge of flunking out of high school. Despite that, the speaker turned his life around and went on to become the first African-American to be elected to both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
"Are we individually and collectively worthy of our children?" Johns asked. "Will we do what's required of us?"
"Despite all the progress we've made in this country – and we've made a lot of progress – there's still a lot of work to be done," Quiñones said, describing how time and time again he has been judged by the color of his skin and the accent of his voice.
"You are the main actor in your featured film. You are the author to your autobiography," Howard tells youth. "Don't let someone make you play a supporting cast role."