The Black Male Initiative Appoints New Vice President
Bernell B. Frank Jr. (Bfrankjr), student, SUNY Empire State College; Layla Abdullah-Poulos ’10, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College
March 19, 2015
The Black Male Initiative (BMI) is a student-focused group that provides support for black male students in order to encourage them during their academic endeavors. Since 2009, BMI has made significant strides in assisting students with accomplishing their collegiate ambitions.
Metropolitan Region student Omar Richards was recently selected by The Black Male Initiative to serve as its vice president. Richards is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Social Science and is an active advocate for justice in every facet of society, including higher education. He is the co-chair of Empire State College Education for All, which seeks to eliminate the racial and socio-economic injustices that exist in higher education. Richards’ efforts to raise awareness about collegiate inequality include conference presentations, radio panel discussions and video diary productions. During Black History Month, he was a panelist on Empire State College’s collegewide Forum on Race and Policing: Issues, Progressions and Comments. Thus, Richards’ new position with The Black Male Initiative is an extension of his personal and academic pursuit to promote equality in our society.
In an interview, Richards provided insight into his involvement with BMI and his new role as vice president.
Why did you join Black Male Initiative?
I was introduced to BMI through a classmate. Once I realized that the organization was for the support of black male students and ensuring their academic success, I decided to become a member.
How do you see the organization growing under your new appointment? Any new agenda ideas?
There is a saying, “collective security for surety,” which means the unification of individuals and ideas will benefit everyone. I feel it is very important that BMI, reaches out, via events and one to one discussions, to the population we represent. I would like to incorporate more outreach to our communities that contain future students, graduates, and leaders and launch tutoring programs, like S.O.S. Crown Heights, that will help men and women study for the GED exam and eventually enter college.
What barriers do you feel people of color face when pursuing their academic goals in higher education, and how does BMI plan to address this in the near future?
Well, where should I begin? I won’t claim to be aware of every issue, nor do I have every solution.
We as black people and people of color face so many issues of inequality. My approach will be to address each issue one by one with transparency. I am aware that this may be time consuming, but I would rather be certain than have doubts. BMI should be a resource that can address and assist student and community issues. I believe that access to education is needed for any person to escape impoverishment and the detrimental social conditions in which they find themselves.