Edwards extolls courage, truthfulness and heart in BH speech

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
An estimated crowd of 42 attended the annual Black History program at the Rapert Library Auditorium in a chilly nightcap Thursday to the week’s other Black History events on the UA Hope campus.
This year’s keynote speaker was Tamika Edwards, the executive director of the Philander Smith College Social Justice Institute in Little Rock.
Edwards took a surprising and personal turn during her speech Thursday night, talking little of public policy, social justice, and current events, and instead opting for personal advice and encouragement to the crowd of young people.
Her three major points were “courage,” “truthfulness” and “heart,” all attributes she said were necessary to endure and advocate for social causes, whether as a public champion and spokesperson or a behind-the-scenes helping hand.
“Not everyone is equipped for public speaking, but can still drive voters to the polls, or help in a soup line, or write a public official. There is a role in social advocacy for everyone. Sometimes it is knowing which role that you can help best,” Edwards said.
“Courage,” Edwards said, was the “ability to do something, even if it frightens you.”
“Truthfullness,” she said, was “knowing who you are, what abilities you have and being honest about who you are and what you can do.”
Edwards cited a passage from Romans 12-6, which said everyone had certain gifts and different gifts.
Finally, Edwards said “heart” was needed. “You have to have a love for people to serve people.”
With her mother, Joyce Silverman, in the audience, Edwards gave her a shout-out for inspiration, praising her for going back to college herself as an adult and getting a four-year degree.
A native of Little Rock, Edwards has over 20 years of experience in public policy, most prominently as a legislative aide for former Arkansas United States Senator Blanche Lincoln. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from UA Pine Bluff (UAPB), a Master’s Degree in Technical Writing from UA Little Rock (UALR), and eventually a Juris Doctor from the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.
Thursday’s nightcap also included musical performances by the SAU Genesis Ministry Choir, and a poetry recital by De’Aushyae Jones of UAHT’s Multicultural Society. Students Jamie Dixon and Raven Sanders gave a short speech entitled “I Am Black History,” which discussed historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and modern day advocates, like football’s Colin Kaepernick and basketball’s LeBron James.
Multicultural President Lisbeth Bello delivered the opening remarks.
Earlier Thursday, the same Rapert Auditorium hosted another Black History program, the Pleasant Hill Quilters, who gave a singing and history performance to over 200 students from Clinton Primary School.

De’Aushyae Jones of UAHT’s Multicultural Society gives a poetry recital of Maya Angelou’s classic “In and Out of Time.” (Rick Kennedy photo)

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