By: Erneikqua Holmes-McCoy
MSU’s annual Black Power Rally empowers the black community, capturing the image of what it is like being not only a black student but one at a predominately white institution. What better way to engage in that feeling than by hearing from your very own peers. Ashley Carr, a senior here at MSU, and a fellow sister of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority was one of two of this year’s rally speakers. From Detroit, Michigan, she attended King High School to soon continue her journey here at MSU as a Community Governance and Advocacy major. Ashley Carr is the previous Political Affairs Director for the Black Student Alliance (BSA), the leading organization for the black community. She has also been a part of South Neighborhood’s Black Caucus as Vice President and participates in other organizations such as My Brother and Sister’s Keeper, Daughters of The Collective, and the African American Student Mentor Program. As a young woman who consistently dedicates a lot of her time to mentoring and helping others, there was no better role model than Ashley to empower her African American peers at the rally. A few days before Black Power Rally, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ashley and get a feeling of what was going through such an influential mind.
“Do you consider yourself a student leader? What impact do you feel you have in the black community?”
Ashley stated that she does indeed consider herself a student leader. “I inspire the community through program and advocacy”, she says. Some of these examples include meeting with MSU’s president, mentoring and speaking at protests. Her inspiration started with Black Caucus, however, Ashley made it clear that “You can make a change without being in an org”.
“Taking naps” she laughs as she continues her list of hobbies that include “reading books, lighting candles, and dates with my boyfriend”. She mentors during her free time (one-on-one talks and group meetings); which generally shows that she enjoys helping others outside of the mentoring organizations that she is a part of.
“What Inspired you to be a BPR speaker? How do you intend to inspire the audience?”
Being on Black Student Alliance’s e-board made her want to be involved. She wanted a challenge and being a speaker was always a goal on her bucket list. When I asked if she was nervous she replied, “I’m nervous, but I am very confident in my speech”. Her message for the audience was “We have to turn our anger into motivation. Nothing has changed but the date”.
On a side note, Ashley delivered her speech at the rally just as she anticipated. Both powerful and moving, she geared her way into the history of how black students have been racially profiled or discriminated against, not just at a predominately white institution, but particularly here at Michigan State University. For many, her speaking on issues that are close at hand was a wake-up call to reality; letting it be known that they are not superior to such issues because it has happened to our peers.
“How have black organizations inspired you?”
Being a part of black orgs has turned her into a leader. “I learned about resources and communication”. Ashley also noted that she learned more about herself through mentoring. A very important point she made was that she joined the organizations she participates in because she wanted to and because they participated in activities she enjoyed. She stated, “Join something that you care about. Don’t join an organization just to say that you are in one.”
“Any advice for black women?”
“Don’t limit yourself or count yourself out before you try. If you are tying, you are succeeding. Trying is a big factor for putting forth that effort.”
“Throughout mistreatment and injustice, we have the final say so. This hatred could be turned around into positivity. We are not a product of our circumstance, but we are a product of our decision”. An example she used was that where she is from does not define her actions or who she is. We are responsible for the outcome and perception in the eyes of others, based on how we choose to operate around inconvenient and unfair events and situations.