BWC members take the “Manhood Pledge” at the installation ceremony. Click to enlarge.
On UVI’s St. Thomas campus, 16 male students took the “Manhood Pledge” as they were installed into the University’s Male Initiative Brothers With A Cause (BWC), on Feb. 3, 2012. With chapters on both campuses, BWC’s goal is to attract more male students to the University and provide tools and support to help them graduate.
President Hall pins BWC member Heath George.
Basil C. Ottley, Jr. of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs was the keynote speaker. Ottley’s message chronicled his struggles with his post-secondary education. After graduating as salutatorian from Antilles School in 1984, he received a full-scholarship to an institution on the U.S. mainland, where as a Black man, he was confronted with challenges that had nothing to do with scholarship, he said. No one understood his struggle, he said, noting that BWC members should never experience that feeling of isolation.
“You here are developing a fellowship of brotherhood,” he said. Ottley’s driving point was encouraging the young men not to pick up unnecessary baggage which he described as drug use, criminal activity and unintentionally becoming fathers. “The more baggage you pick up along the way, the more difficult it becomes to carry and it strikes out possibilities and options,” he said. Ottley told the young men to make the best possible choices.
Speaker Basil Ottley, Jr.
“Choices along the way can severely limit your opportunities that you may not be aware of today.” He ended with a passage by Virgin Islander Hubert Harrison, a writer, educator and political activist who is said to be a founder of the Harlem Renaissance.
In his remarks UVI President Dr. David Hall said that bright, strong and committed young men will make a difference in the territory. “What you are embracing is a commitment to leadership, a commitment to service and a commitment to do your best,” Dr. Hall told the young men.
VI Senate President Ronald Russell also offered remarks.