Looking for leaders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2003

Dr. Patricia Russell-McCloud presented a high energy message of motivation and empowerment to the second annual African-American leadership conference at Troy State University's Adams Center Friday night.

Russell-McCloud, a professional motivational speaker and former lawyer with the Federal Communications Commission, brought the crowd to its feet with her call for leaders and inspirational presentation.

&uot;Paging leaders,&uot; Russell-McCloud called, drawing murmurs of approval from the audience. &uot;We need an attitude check.&uot;

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With TSU Chancellor Jack Hawkins and other dignitaries present, Russell-McCloud stressed the importance of families and blasted popular culture for eroding positive values.

&uot;Does the traditional family arrangement have staying power?&uot; she asked the crowd. &uot;Only 16 percent of young adults believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to raise children.&uot;

Russell-McCloud outlined the bleak circumstances facing young black people today, using statistics to show that young black people are much more likely to end up in jail than in post-graduate programs. She attacked &uot;our microwave, quick-fix society,&uot; and said there were not nearly enough black-owned businesses.

Though she didn't target any specific enemies who were external threats to the African-American communities, she did say that black people needed to fight battles within themselves to create opportunities and climates conducive to success.

&uot;Your attitude determines your altitude,&uot; she said. &uot;Never give up.&uot;

Hawkins addressed the crowd, stressing the need to be persistent in implementing positive changes and Mayor Jimmy Lunsford welcomed the audience to Troy before leaving to attend a prior commitment.

The conference, which continued Saturday with a series of workshops on building strong families and communities featured prominent Pike Countians such as Jose Henderson, District One representative on the Troy City Council and Dr. Linda Felton, principal at Charles Henderson High School.

&uot;I really want to use the conference to listen and get knowledge from our elders,&uot; said Rod Thornton, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, a TSU fraternity.

Joseph Thornton, a junior majoring in Sports and Fitness Management, agreed.

&uot;We need to get a wider knowledge of leadership. One way is not the right way,&uot; he said.

Kathy White of Troy said she was looking forward to continuing her education at the conference.

&uot;I want to learn about leadership and families,&uot; she said.

White, who is cook at OCAP and former entrepreneur, hopes that leadership will strengthen community and economic ties between groups in Troy.

Calvin Griffin of Troy found Russell-McCloud's message to be uplifting and said he would incorporate many of her messages into his life in the near future.

&uot;She was a great speaker, but most importantly, she brought a message, not only for the black community, but for the whole nation. If people in America would take some of her advice, we'd be in a better place,&uot; he said.

Griffin said people in Troy needed to work on closing the generation gap.

&uot;I wish more younger folks were here and could put some of her messages in place. There'd be a real change in our community,&uot; he said. &uot;I definitely plan on getting more involved now that I'm retired and have some more free time. In the past, I knew what needed to be done, but I just watched.&uot;

Stephen Stetson can be reached at stephen.stetson@troymessenger.com.