University of Delaware
Actor, author and activist Hill Harper addresses a large audience at UD.


Actor Hill Harper urges students to dream big, plan smart


2:40 p.m., Feb. 27, 2012--While television viewers can find Hill Harper most Friday evenings on CSI-NY, fans and admirers were presented with an in-person opportunity to meet and hear the activist, author and actor on Friday, Feb. 24, in the Trabant University Center.

About 500 students, faculty, staff and community members listened to Harper as he discussed the importance of identifying goals and planning to support them, during the UD Center for Black Culture’s (CBC) Black History Month Extravaganza 2012 event.

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Earlier, the center hosted CSI-UD, or College Students Investigate, a conversation in which Harper answered questions on issues affecting relationships between black male and female students on campus.

Kasandra Moye, director of the Center for Black Culture, welcomed guests while noting that the center has provided 36 years of mentoring and leadership, helping students to find and use available campus resources. 

Brooklyn Hitchens, a junior double major in Black American Studies and English, read her poem, “Dedication to My Future Seed.” N'Kosi Oates, a sophomore political science major, introduced Harper, the author of Letters to a Young Brother, Letters to a Young Sister and most recently The Conversation

Calling on the audience members to be the architects of their own lives, Harper said that proper preparation for meeting life aspirations benefits both the individual and the larger society. 

“Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘We are all tied together in a garment of mutual destiny,’” Harper said. “It comes down to a contest of creating the lives we want.”

Leaving the podium, Harper traversed the aisles with microphone in hand as he challenged members of the audience to jot down a statement of their dreams and career aspirations. 

“The goal of any architect is to develop and design a structure that will last for a long time, and we can use this as a jumping off point,” Harper said. “We also want to be living a life of legacy by creating something that will last beyond us.”

Creating this architectural model and making dreams and aspirations a reality, Harper said, means developing a blueprint, building a solid foundation, designing a structure that will last and inserting doors for others to enter.

“The first thing that people need is a blueprint and a pencil, so that they can sketch out their own design and make modifications,” Harper said. “Sometimes we ask for more specificity from an architect than we do from ourselves in designing our own lives. We need to sketch out this blueprint.”

Once a blueprint has been designed, a strong foundation on which to build these life plans must be put in place, Harper said. 

"You need a thick foundation to build big hopes and dreams on,” Harper said. “This can include education, faith, spirituality and family.”

With this foundation in place, the dream builder must next construct a framework, Harper said.

“We have to sift through all of the information that is directed at us,” Harper said. “The frameworks for our lives are the choices that we make. These choices have to be informed by critical thinking.”

Many people, Harper noted, get sidetracked from making the proper choices because of FEAR, which he defined as "false evidence appearing real."

The final phase, Harper noted, is installing doors for others to enter and to enhance and support one’s lifetime goals. 

“Doors are essential if we are to let people and new ideas enter our lives and help us fulfill our plans,” Harper said. “And, sometimes we have to use these doors to let people out.” 

While goals may sometimes seem unattainable, Harper said it is better to dream big than to accept a life compromised by smaller aspirations and designs.

“The future does not belong to those who are afraid,” Harper said. “Say that you will not allow fear to stop you from taking the actions you initially wanted to take, and that you will let others do the same.” 

After the presentation, members of the audience had the opportunity to query Harper on a number of subjects and to purchase signed copies of his books. 

Support for the Black History Month: February and Beyond event also included the Office of the Vice President for Student Life, the Cultural Programming Advisory Board, the Black Student Union and the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Lane McLaughlin

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