On Wednesday, February 26th, Dr. Umar Johnson delivered a speech to faculty, staff, and students in the James L. Bolden Student Union Ballroom at Alcorn State University (ASU).
Dr. Johnson is a world renowned speaker, author, certified school psychologist and activist who is considered an expert on the education and mental health of African American children. Johnson opened his speech challenging all ASU students to start achieving black excellence. He suggested that students get self-disciplined, strive to be above mediocrity and leave social media alone for a while to get to that higher level. His definition of self discipline is “the ability to do what you don’t want to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.”
Johnson continued by stating, “America is a specialist in destroying black males.” He relates that to his theory that special education is a weapon of mass destruction in the black community. His reasoning is that in 1954 after schools desegregated, white suburban Americans had to find a way to keep black children from competing with them, so they implemented special education in 1975. Johnson assured his audience that black students are not predispositioned for special education, they’re just lazy. He strongly believes that special education was born out of racism.
Dr. Johnson revealed his plan to open a school, the Frederick Douglass Marcus Garvey Academy in Delaware, to teach black boys and girls agricultural sciences, military and political sciences, African martial arts and self defense. For at least three years, the school will not have sports. “Why does every black boy want to be a rapper or basketball player? America has done a great job with limiting black men to rap and basketball,” Dr. Johnson said. “Don’t be Michael Jordan, be the owner of Nike who pays him. Don’t be Lebron James, be the owner of the Lakers who pays him.” “I love how he’s unapologetically real and honest. He enlightened me and taught me some things about Black History,” Patrick Mason, 2020-2021 ASU Student Government Association President, stated.
Dr. Johnson continued to get the audience’s attention by discussing many controversial topics. Several included topics concerning black women wearing European hairstyles and black people spending over $2 billion on Air Jordan’s. “The black woman’s beauty crisis is a direct result of the black man’s low self-esteem,” Dr. Johnson said. He suggested that the reason black women desire to look white is because white women are the only women that black men look at. “I’m loyal and committed 100 percent, unapologetically to my sisters and black men have to do the same,” Dr. Johnson said.
He then reflected on several 2020 events that directly affected the black community including the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Dr. Johnson explained to the audience that he was very disappointed in the protests and found three things that black people did wrong. “Black America allowed non-Africans to march with us. It was a problem because white people outnumber black people in America 8 to 1, so if they are joining the movements, they can dominate and take over the movement by the force of their numbers,” Dr. Johnson said. He believes that whatever is to be done for black people must be done by black people.
As the speech progressed, he explained his stance on being a Pan-Africanist and encouraged the students to join him. Pan-Africanist identify as being black before belonging to any religion, culture, etc. “We rise together or we don’t rise at all,” Johnson said. He closed his speech encouraging students to read more and learn their history because those that don’t know their history are bound to repeat it. He left the audience with a quote by stating, “How did our ancestors have nothing and created everything but we have everything and have done nothing.”
To conclude the event Dr. Johnson gave away several of his books to students that answered Black History questions correctly. “This event was a great way to end Black History Month. It allowed numerous students to come together to learn more about our history and the struggles we face and learn how we can contribute to improving the future,” Taea Jackson, 94th Miss Alcorn State University, stated.