Dr. James L. Moore III of The Ohio State University spoke Thursday night at the Konover Auditorium about the need for institutions of higher education to do more to ensure success for black male students.
Moore is internationally recognized for his work on black men and boys, and is a distinguished professor of urban education at The Ohio State University as well as executive director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American male.
Dr. Erik M. Hines, an assistant professor in UConn’s department of educational psychology and counseling program, served as the moderator for the event. Hines used an interview format to pose specific questions to Moore.
The first question directed at Moore was what led him to the work he’s doing now.
Moore grew up in rural South Carolina. He said he had witnessed a lot of suffering going on around him. He said he lived a very privileged life, but that it was not until he got to college that he realized how good he had it.
At a young age, his parents instilled in him to use education to better his life and in turn impact the community. After suffering an injury when playing football that would prevent him to continue with the sport and a few other misfortunes, he sunk into a depressive state, he said.
It wasn’t until Christmas, when his family “adopted” another family to spend the holiday with them that his mother pointed out he’d be a great counselor, he said.
When he was a student at Delaware State University, out of 45 other black males living on the same floor, he was the only one who graduated. That is something that still bothers him, he said.
Once getting a position at OSU, Moore said he worked to be a leader to help black males that were “virtually invisible on our campus.”
Three years after starting the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource program the retention rate of black males surpassed that of black women, according to Moore who said that is typically “unheard of.”
“We need to change the way black males are being looked at,” Moore said.
He said that his program tries to study what is working, rather they adapt to students instead of the other way around.
“I’m not doing anything innovative, I just had the courage to do it,” Moore said. “You have to be committed to (this) work even when the passion and money are gone. You can’t let them (the students) down.”
Karim Abdel Jalil, a sixth-semester physiology and neurobiology, said he came to the event because (Moore’s) mindset is different than a lot of peoples’.
“He argues that you don’t have to be a stallion, you just have to think like a stallion and start running with the stallions and eventually you are a stallion,” Jalil said. “I think at college you get caught up with doing your thing and he reminded everyone that no matter who you are or who you’re with you need a coach to bring you there.”
Sixth-semester mathematics major Christine Atallah said that one thing that stuck out to her that Moore mentioned was that it is important to encourage people, rather than tell them they’re not good enough or won’t be able to do something.
“You kind of conform to the people around you, if you’re surrounded by people who aren’t doing a good job you’re probably not going to be doing a good job,” she said. “But if you’re surrounded by people who are successful and doing great then you’re more likely to be successful.”