Feb 142011
Authors: Erin Udell

Tomorrow, as students gather in the Lory Student Center’s Grey Rock Room at 7 p.m. they should expect to get a little motivation.

Speaker, author, activist and minister Eric Thomas, also known as the “hip-hop preacher” will be giving the opening keynote address for CSU’s Black History Month celebration.

Thomas, who’s known for his high-energy speeches, urges young people to break the cycle of “crime, hopelessness and despair” in order to reach their full potential, according to Thomas’ biography on his official website.

“From what we’ve seen (on his website), he’s really realistic about his approach and he’s straightforward,” said Gabrielle Ohaya, public relations officer for Black Definition, the student organization hosting Thomas. “It will definitely get you thinking.”

As a 16-year-old, Thomas dropped out of school and ended up living on the streets of Detroit until, one year later, his life changed after a chance meeting with a pastor who revealed Thomas’ true potential.

Years later, after earning his GED and enrolling in Oakwood University, Thomas decided to reach out to drug dealers of Detroit, urging them to start living their lives with purpose by going back to school.

During his time at Oakwood, Thomas also started Break the Cycle I Dare You, a non-profit organization centered on youth programs with a focus on making good choices and dealing with “family, social and academic struggles,” according to www.etthehiphoppreacher.com, Thomas’ website.

Thomas went on to receive his master’s degree and is in the process of obtaining his PhD in education administration at Michigan State University.

His motivational speaking style is expected to be a little different than most students are used to, said Danielle McConnell, of Black Definition, who expects around 30 people to attend the event –– half of the rooms capacity.

“We thought that it would be something different and not as boring as just having someone come and talk,” McConnell said. “He’s kind of upbeat and lively, so it seemed like it would be more exciting for students.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Attend the speech
What: Motivational speaker, Eric Thomas is giving the opening keynote address for Black History Month.
Where: The Grey Rock Room in the Lory Student Center
When: Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.

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