Speaker Series with Don Lemon at N.C. A&T Hits Mark, Addressing Tough Topics

By Tonya Dixon / 08/26/2020

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Aug. 26, 2020) – Following nearly 45 minutes in a master class with journalism and mass communication students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, veteran news anchor Don Lemon pivoted to “The Power of Privilege,” a virtual conversation with moderator/alumna Destiny-Simone Ramjohn, the entire campus community and hundreds of attendees from across the nation. Neither event disappointed.Three speaker series speakers

The first segment of the 2020-21 Chancellor’s Speaker Series for N.C. A&T began with Lemon discussing his first encounters with privilege. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, he said he experienced “colorful and direct” interactions with racism and privilege even before he recognized them for what they were. Nevertheless, those early experiences left a lasting impression that he used as fuel to fulfill his passions and help others.

While a great deal of the conversation dealt with privilege in relation to racial discrimination, wealth disparitites and economic disenfranchisement, the discussion also addressed cultural privilege, particularly in relation to colorism in the African American community. Lemon discusses the concept extensively in his 2011 memoir, “Transparent.”

Both Lemon and Ramjohn agreed, before racism can be addressed externally, there must be internal reckoning and healing culturally.

“We have to check ourselves,” said Ramjohn.

As the conversation dug deeper into the many facets of privilege, including the necessity of more equitable opportunities, discourse surrounding dismantling the systems of privilege and understanding the importance of self confidence, Lemon passionately drove home a topic that was clearly of foremost interest – voting.

Lemon encouraged people not to get sidetracked by unsubstantiated commentary and calls for citizens to protest by withholding their vote. He observed that voters rarely agree with 100 percent of a candidate’s positions. He advised voters to get on the bus with the person that gets you the closest to your destination. Go to the polls and vote. Work with those who will work with you because there's no perfect candidate.

As the conversation concluded, Lemon encouraged students to ultimately worry less about those who try to stifle growth and more about self improvement.

"Of course you are aware of who you are, but stop seeing yourself as ‘other.’ Worry about being excellent,” he said. “The cream always rises to the top."

Media Contact Information: tddixon1@ncat.edu

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