ATLANTA – On Thursday, Sept. Sept 14, radio and television host Rashad Richey, Ph.D., delivered a powerful keynote speech at the fall 2023 convocation at Clark Atlanta University. Richey, a 2018 CAU doctoral graduate from the School of Education, infused physics theories and lessons in his address seemingly gleaned from Big Mamma and Einstein in his address. Several poignant themes struck a chord with the captivated audience; every action has a response; changing the world means you must own your narrative; when you allow others to judge you, your potential is limited.
“Everything has a response, regardless of time and distance,” said Richey, who is a multidisciplinary scholar and a physics professor. “Everything is connected.” And Richey highlighted the theory of the so-called “observer effect.” This is the notion that human measurement will change the very nature of what is being measured. It was almost to suggest that the act of paying close attention to the powers that be — law enforcement, elected leaders, or business executives —may have the effect of changing adverse behavior toward marginalized communities.
Richey also discussed how journalists in the newsroom he oversees as president of rolling out magazine are encouraged to tell stories through their experience and culture. Of course, this is the opposite of how journalism has traditionally said stories should be told. But Richey asserted it is foolish to think one can block out their life experiences and culture in storytelling. In fact, it is a disservice to the audience was Richey’s point. As students peered through sunglasses and fanned themselves like churchgoers on a hot summer day at Bible study, he implored them to own their narrative by embracing their experiences, exposures, and environment. He said students will be able to tell their own complex stories with “integrity and insight,” while transforming misleading cultural narratives. In other words, embrace
what makes you different, he demanded.
Perhaps the part of his speech in which students paid the most attention was when Richey cautioned them against allowing others to judge them. “Don’t let anyone measure you,” he said. “Don’t let anyone limit you. When you do, you leave the place of potentiality and fall into the place of a fixed particle,” another physics reference that resonated with the crowd. Suddenly, the students’ eyes opened a little wider, they leaned in closer and the aha moment was realized. They got exactly what they were there for, a big dose of encouragement to go forth and be the best version of themselves.
To close out the speech, Richey brought the crowd back to his original premise of changing one’s perspective to transform the world, and he directly linked that idea to one of CAU’s mottos, “I’ll find a way or make one.” If audience applause and head nods by CAU president George T. French Jr. were any indication, the students received the speech in grand fashion.
–mario boone, writer and fashionista