Hill Harper visit kicks off Black History Month celebration
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 17:02
As part of the Black History Month observance, SMU’s Association of Black Students hosted guest speaker Hill Harper Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.
Harper spoke to an audience of 200-250 on reinvesting in the black community.
Students and community members held high expectations for Harper’s appearance and waited in anticipation of his arrival.
Patricia Williams, a community member and teacher at James Madison High School, heard of this event through Facebook.
Williams said her motivation for attending the ABS event was because she was interested in how Harper began his career and what challenges he has faced being a black man in the acting industry.
Harper’s speech was broken into four main points on how to reinvest in any type of community.
Using the metaphor of building a house he stated that as people, we are “architects of our own lives” meaning, as a community, people hold each other back or move each other forward.
Harper began with the blue print or the plan.
To reinvest in a community, there needs to be a plan Harper said. “I want to hear people say [that] I want to build lives of impact and legacy.”
The second point was related to the foundation.
Harper noted that in New York, to build a structure, architects have to “dig so deep to build so high.”
Harper went on to say that education and money are similar in that they offer options but do not guarantee success.
The third point was a frame. Environmental conditions influence our decisions Harper said.
“Choices are critical.”
The last point was the last addition to Harper’s metaphorical structure: a door.
The door’s purpose is to let people in or let them out.
He commented that people tend to stay inside the same circles which hinder the opportunity for new ideas and innovation.
To prevent this hindrance, the idea is to let outsiders in.
On the other side of that token, the door’s purpose is to let people out who pose obstacles. “Haters” as Harper termed
To wrap up his speech, Harper ended with having the audience repeat an affirmation to take risks, overcome fears and live a life within a wider scope.
Amanda Arismendy, a sophomore at SMU, came to the ABS event because she had seen Harper on “CSI:NY.”
She also said because of the speech, she was inspired to take risks, to be courageous and to overcome her fears.
Hill Harper is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the CBS program “CSI: NY.”
He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and went on to graduate cum laude from Harvard Law School.
Harper is also a NAACP Image award winner, author of several books and an active philanthropist in his community.
ABS has more events planned for the celebration of Black History Month.
Some of these events include; a community service day, a Black Excellence Ball and Delta Jeopardy.
For more information on those events Devean Owens, president of ABS, said you can find information on the group’s Facebook page, on the SMU website and in the multicultural affairs office.