Let there be mics, let there be knowledge

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Once again, the Rock the Mic: Lecture Series is rocking the stage at N.C. Central University.

The yearly lecture series was created by Student Engagement and Leadership in 2015 to encourage critical thinking and open dialogue about social issues.

“We’re trying to get enhance the attraction to lectures outside of the classroom, get students excited to hear people speak,” said Orok Orok, assistant director of student engagement.

Last year, the series featured appearances by rapper and music producer David Banner, political activist Angela Davis, and Sybrina Fulton, mother of the late Trayvon Martin. After the speeches, students are usually able to ask the guest questions during a Q&A session.

Now, the series is back with a new batch of guest speakers.

Mass communication senior Nia Darby said she went to hear some of the guest speakers last year.

“What I liked about it the most was the dialogue that opened up between the student and whoever came,” Darby said. “The ones I enjoyed the most was Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis because theirs was like, more conversational and talking directly to us.”

She enjoyed some speakers more than others, she said.

Darby said that during David Banner’s lecture, it felt like he was “screaming at us” and said that he “created animosity on the campus.”

According to Darby, Banner led the audience down the street to the Public Safety Building after he got word of a female student’s arrest by campus police on the night of his lecture.

This year is different for Darby. She said she’s excited for this year’s opening lecture.

Special guest Terrence Jenkins, also known as Terrence J, will be the next speaker to kick off Rock the Mic inside the B.N. Duke auditorium on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.

Jenkins is a graduate from North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in mass communication. He also hosted 106 and Park, a popular BET music countdown show from 2006 until 2012 with co-host Raquel “Rocsi” Diaz.

After his stint as a host, Jenkins began his acting career and starred in movies such as “Stomp the Yard,” “Stomp the Yard: Homecoming,” and “Think Like A Man.”

Darby remembered seeing Jenkins speak at her high school. Though now she is excited for a different reason.

Terrance J, actor and TV personality, will become the first speaker for the 2016-2017 Rock the Mic lecture series. Photo courtesy of
Terrance J, actor and TV personality, will be the first speaker for the 2016-2017 Rock the Mic lecture series. Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

“I feel like I’d be more engaged now because I’ve grown up, and I’m not just going to be focused on his looks,” she said. “I’m really paying attention to what he’s saying.”

That’s exactly what Orok and other administrators want students to get excited about: the ideas, the open dialogue, the learning.

The Rock the Mic Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Upcoming speakers include Iyanla Vanzant of the show “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” civil rights activist Freeman Hrabowski, professional stepping company Step Afrika!, activist and author Cornel West, and Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X.

Last year, the series cost $70,000. The Echo did not receive a response regarding the cost of this year’s series.

Parker Thomas is a senior in mass communication, focusing on broadcast media. His interests include video games, heavy metal, and guitars. He's hoping to become a video game composer in the future.

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