Appearing for the first time this fall at Michigan State University, a new student organization is on a clear path to stand apart from the rest. It’s not a new IM team, or a new volunteer opportunity. It’s much different from that. And just as necessary. The group is called Rising Black Men and is dedicated to mentoring freshmen black men as they navigate through college at a PWI (predominately white institution).
The formula for the group was created by Tim Herd, a junior education major originally from Detroit, Michigan. According to Herd, he was inspired to tackle issues relating to black college-aged men after researching the disadvantages faced by this demographic this summer at an internship on campus at MSU.
“(This summer) I was looking at all the adverse effects that we had in schooling as black males specifically and all the things that were going against us. I felt that it was necessary to create a support system so that we can succeed,” Herd says. “So that when we encounter some of these disadvantages we can encounter them head on and possibly beat them and overcome them.”
Herd was inspired to make a change after experiencing discontentment with the narrative surrounding black men at Michigan State. Now, Herd and his organization are seeking to change the conversation in a more positive light. Rising Black Men is determined to promote black men on campus to not view themselves as many members of the community may view them. “There is an inaccurate depiction of the amount of good males we have in the black community,” Herd says.
With his group, Rising Black Men is centered around leadership development, community building, and personal uplifting to shatter stereotypes and to highlight the positive presence of black men on campus.
Herd is optimistic about the turnout that Rising Black Men has already begun to see and retain every week. There are about sixty active members of the organization already, with about 33 freshman, seven sophomores, and a dozen graduate students. Herd is not heading the group alone, but has about eight fellow mentors helping Rising Black Men to accomplish its goals.
Rising Black Men meets every other Friday at 7pm, and tentatively in Brody room 175. A typical meeting consists of multiple discussion based forums that encourage dialogue and community between the members. Also, the group hosts interactive seminars that revolve around an issue or topic faced by many black men on campus.
“We have learning objectives, and each learning objective is different,” Herd says. “This past one was how to navigate a predominately white institution while being a black male, and dealing with micro aggressions.” Herd was confident about the flow of the meeting, and how receptive and engaged the group members were. The meeting resulted in “a lot of good discussion. And that’s the goal, to have good discussion and to have people think a little deeper about certain topics.”
In its essence, Rising Black Men is a student organization very different from the rest, with an unwavering dedication to uplift the black males on campus to view themselves positively and to achieve at a high level.
In the future, Herd hopes to see his organization positively affect not only black men at Michigan State, but also in the greater Lansing community, and on other Big Ten campuses. “I’m taking the steps necessary to get there,” Herd says.
Rising Black Men is most certainly on its way. This organization is one that feels so necessary, with a simple, hopeful, and inspiring goal:
“I want them to become better leaders. And I want them to become better men.”
Article written by : Olivia Robinson