TheBlackManCan is making its first trip to Arkansas for its next EXTRAordinary Black Man feature. We bring to you a Black Man who is the known as the Hip Hop president and he is one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. We proudly present Dr. Walter Kimbrough the 12th president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Kimbrough will soon take the reigns as Dillard University’s 7th President. Dynamic is one of many words that are associated with Dr. Kimbrough who has a strong ability to relate and speak to young people. Dr. Kimbrough sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss the role of fraternities, rites of passage programs, service to others and advice for young Black Males.
TheBlackManCan: Dr. Kimbrough, at what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be in the position to serve others?
WK: I decided I wanted to work in higher education as an undergraduate based on my great experience. But after I started grad school and learned how much I could assist students, I really got excited about this career field.
TheBlackManCan: You are known as The Hip Hop President. How did you develop this title?
WK: When I was announced as president, I talked about being from Generation X, as well as the hip hop generation. The point was that I was different from most presidents and would be authentic. A local weekly paper, The Arkansas Times, wrote a story about “the hip hop president” the next week. The PR folks here didn’t like it, but I saw it as a way to tanglibly stand out and it works.
TheBlackManCan: How important is Greek like on a Black College Campus? What role do fraternities play in the development of black males?
WK: Fraternities and sororities are important as are all groups which make the campus smaller. It allows for a closer bond in the larger campus culture. Black men can develop some great leadership opportunities through a fraternity, but right now, I am concerned about the persistent hazing in the wake of the FAMU band death. Roughly 20 men have been arrested for other hazing cases since then, which begs the question if these groups are doing more harm than good.
TheBlackManCan: Why are rights of passage programs important for Black Males and what age do you believe they should start at?
WK: I’m not a real big fan of rites of passage because they aren’t done consistently or authentically. It has become a catch phrase for any kind of mentoring program. I would rather more men take responsibility for their own children and teach them individually how to become a man. These programs often try to substitute for a missing father, and I am not convinced this works at all.
TheBlackManCan: What steps can colleges and universities take to make sure students of color feel welcome and apart of campus?
WK: There needs to be a critical mass of students first of all. Second, there needs to be programs and activities consistently which reflect their experiences. There should be significant leaders on campus which not only reflect these students but who meaningfully engage these students.
TheBlackManCan: There is rhetoric out there that suggest Historically Black Colleges and Universities are becoming irrelevant. Share with us the importance of HBCU’s to society and the black community.
WK: All we have to do is look at the continuing racial incidents on college campuses to know that HBCUs are still relevant. The atmosphere provided at HBCUs cannot be duplicated at a PWI, and for some students, they are in need of an HBCU environment. Furthermore, the HBCU can develop students which may become overlooked at another institution.
TheBlackManCan: What advice and/or strategies would you share to a young person who aspired to be a college president in their lifetime?
WK: Do the best job in every job you have. College presidencies are in finite supply. Everyone who aspires will not achieve the goal. Those who do work toward that goal by being excellent at every step, rather than just worrying about the end goal.
TheBlackManCan: You have earned lots of accolades, how does it feel to receive such praise for living a life in service of others? What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date?
WK: My biggest accomplishment is my family. That’s the most important thing to me. In terms of receiving praise, I also know that there are people who think little of me and my accomplishments. So I know there isn’t universal praise and that keeps me grounded.
TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself in the next five to seven years?
WK: I’ll still be at Dillard- no doubt.
TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Young Black boys and men to see positives images of themselves?
WK: This is extremely important because the dominant image black boys see are entertainers, athletes, and criminals. These images outweigh all others. So we have to work hard to balance these out.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young black boys?
WK: Make education your hustle. If you are truly educated, you get access to opportunities and resources that many will not receive. So while so many break their necks trying to play in the NBA, which is a small group of people who work generally 5-7 years, over a lifetime they would be more secure in an established industry, and then learn how to make income through investments, or serving on corporate boards. That’s where real wealth is developed.
Our mission is to actively promote a positive black male image. Welcome to the Spotlight: League of EXTRAordinary Black Men. Here, we spotlight black men weekly who are having a positive impact in communities across the country. These men are actively promoting a positive black male image each and every day. If you know a man that should be spotlighted please send an email to email@example.com In that email please state who you are and why you are nominating this individual. Please leave your contact information and the contact information of the individual you are nominating.