The Brothers of FAMU

How do you do?

It has been a minute since I’ve done a blog post. I’ve been collecting notes/research on all types of topics; everything from FAMU Homecoming 1979 to essential oils.   Plus, if I’m not moved to write, then I don’t write.  Over the last few weeks though, with everything going on, I  had to really stop and take notice of all of the extraordinary brothers who are out here – for a lack of a better phrase, and in one way or another – doing the damn thing.    There are countless, endless, and infinite brothers out here doing all types of wondrous things. But…few are doing what we’re doing. And by “we,” I mean the brothers of FAMU.   Both current students and young alum are building businesses, and brands, traveling the world, fighting for social justice and in some cases, all of the above.  
 From activism to education, these brothers are blazing trails, If FAMU is indeed “America’s Kemet,” then these are the Kings that She has produced.  Some say that I’ve been blessed with the gift of written communication; there is nothing I enjoy more than using those words to praise those that I admire.  It is my way of telling God “Thank You” this particular gift.  I certainly don’t want to suggest that FAMU is the only institution out here producing magnanimous brothers taking care of business; if you feel compelled to write about the brothers of your institution, by all means, please do so. But this post, is about FAMU men.  So WitAlllaDAT, here are a few brothers from FAMU you need to know:

Phillip Agnew.

I had the privilege of meeting Phillip Agnew nearly 10 years ago.  He was actually the first person I met when I stepped foot on The Hill.  Phillip is our Stokely Carmichael; he is our King and our X; and we must support this brother in any all ways. From Martin Lee Anderson, to Trayvon Martin, to Mike Brown, and others, Phillip has led the Dream Defenders in combating injustices across the nation.   However, while Phillip is out here leading the charge against social injustices, we must not make a martyr out of him by cheering him on from the
       sidelines.  The best way we  can support Phillip and all the things he is doing with the Dream Defenders is by doing our part to bring attention to the issues that are impacting our communities and lending our own voices to them.  We are the only people on the face of this earth who look for a Moses to lead them to the Promised Land.  Why do we need Moses when God gave us our own two feet?  Anytime Harry Belafonte, John Lewis, and Jesse Jackson  are giving you their blessing, then you know you just might be on to something.  He is a different kind of activist who instills power in the people while still displaying that “Ag Swag.” I shudder to think where that brother will be in 10 years; but if I had to guess, I would assume it would result in many people working toward whatever  platform he is spearheading. Phil sho nuff got the power.

         Jay Sweet. 

           Insanely focused.  No other phrase to describe Jay Sweet.I have met few people who are as focused and driven as this brother. I had the awesome privilege of meeting him in January. At the time, Jay was working on his short-film “Chain Music.” The film takes a long and at times uncomfortable look at the impact hip-hop and rap music has had on Black lives – particularly Black relationships.  There is one scene in the movie that is especially powerful to me.  Without giving too much away, the scene basically shows how we as a people can sometimes treat our businesses and Black owned establishments with contempt; this in turn breeds an inferior attitude and as a result, we tend to spend our money elsewhere.  Jay brilliantly captures this Black sociological phenomenon where history, hip-hop, and lyricism intersect.  The music, cinematography, acting, direction, and overall production is nothing less than what you’d expect from a J-school Rattler.  The day it premiered was an especially hard day for me. Earlier in the day, I pretty much made up my mind that trying to build a company like Falling Black in Love was dead ending me and that it was best that I discontinue my doctoral studies, pack up the company, and move back home. Seeing Chain Music later that night confirmed for me that dreams and visions can become reality when you decide that the work must be done. Jay got it done. 

   Derrick Mac (Anti_Intellect).

      How could you not be proud that the number one crusader for HBCU advocacy was trained at the Kingdom of FAMU? How appropriate is it that the leading voice on protecting Black spaces like HBCUs would be that of a Rattler? Few have positioned themselves to speak with such authority on issues of Blackness, HBCU relevance, gender equality, and social justice like Anti. His blog, “young, gifted, and ratchet ” is among one the very best for young, Black millenials looking to be engaged in topics centered on the Black experience.  Beware though, being a Rattler will not save you from Anti’s wrath if you are fond of privileging PWI’s over HBCUs, or homophobia, or sexism, or any combination of the 3.  He is a masterful thinker, bold in his critiques and analysis, and is not afraid to ruffle some feathers In October of 2014, Anti penned a public letter to Queen Toni Morrison respectfully requesting an explanation as to why she decided to give her papers to Princeton (PWI) and not her alma mater Howard.  Me and Anti had the chance to finally sit down in the City of Banneker (aka DC) and chop it up.  I’m glad we did.  The brother is solid and his work is the truth.

  TL Harris.


 Anytime someone asks me where I got the motivation or idea for Falling Black in Love, I tell them just one name: Troy .  Two years ago while I still finishing up my graduate degree, I organized a week-long celebration in honor of Women’s History Week entitled, “Young, Gifted, & Black: The Re-Affirmation of FAMU Women” and called on the help of TL for an event.  At the time he and another brother had stated the C.A.S.C. U.S. Group. 

There is no other way to describe what they were doing with the project or  was happening on the campus of Florida A&M at that time other than a “movement.” Troy (and Iman Sandifer) used the CASCUS Group to bring a light to all types of issues that we needed to be talking about through a variety of forums. From music, to comedy shows, to the initiatives supporting Black businesses, TL was moving students in a way I had not seen students moved.  The CASCUS Clay mixtape is still in heavy rotation – his track being one of the dopest on the project.  Any way this brother can support me, he has done so. Few see the world the way that he does; in fact, if I had to describe Troy, I would say he would be some combination of DuBois, Pharrell, Tupac, and Andre 3000. One of the coolest and most down the earth brothers you’ll ever encounter.  I look forward to what he has in store for the future.

Tawn-Tyba (From Togo) and Dem Ques.


5.      So I’ve only known this brother for less than 90 days but what he and The Upsilon Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi did for me will forever be a favor I can never pay back.  In October, I hosted my first for profit event as a business owner. Tawn, the president of Omega Psi Phi partnered with Falling Black in Love. The result? One of the livest homecoming parties/experiences of the weekend.  Depending on what time you arrived, for just $1 you got access to the livest bonfire known to man.  No seriously – there were no less than 500 people there.  On the inside you got an art and poetry show courtesy of Capital 6 and FAMU art students and on the third floor, free wine tasting courtesy of FAMU School of Viticulture ß-ALL for a dollar! More so than that, The Omegas made it possible for me to not only put money into the hands of 6 other people, they gave me the confidence in myself in getting the job done.  More than that, Tawn is a business man who expected and demanded nothing but the utmost professionalism from his fraternity.  In a single night, Tawn not only restored my faith in what the Black male Greek fraternity could be, his actions affirmed for me that he lived life by the same mantra as I: Everybody Eats, B!


   Andre Hayes.

        I dare you to find another brother more Black to the Bones than He.  FAMU’s Renaissance Woman (Ferrisa Connell – a force so dynamic She actually needs Her very own post), brought Dre to me about a year ago and me and this brother have been taking care of business ever since.  Like a true FAMU King,  “The General” as I have come to know him as, wears several hats. He is a mentor to no less than a dozen other brothers.  He volunteers in the community as a stepping coach for Black youth.    He leads an ever-growing campus-wide community fitness support group #YourGirlWantMeFitness. I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few sessions and let me tell you, the brother puts in work.  But, the community support and the measures he takes to build your self-confidence as you work out is what sets this brother a part from the other 10,000 personal trainers or fitness experts on campus.  From photography, to poetry, to Afro-centered scholar, the brother has got it going on and on…and on. 


Jabari Payne. 


Jabari P.  is probably the most talented videographer that has come out of Florida A&M University.  If you were on the campus of FAMU between 2010-2014 and you had some type of video or project that involved a video, chances are that video was either shot, edited, and/or conceived by Jabo.  Like so many of the brothers on this list, Jabo is immensely talented and armed with so many gifts, that its hard to say what he does the best.  His vision and creativity is unmatched by many.  He is a modern day Hip-hop historian with a keen eye and ear that you must respect.  Jabo is working on all types of projects currently, His latest project got me Charlie Brownin’ in anticipation.    


Jabari Lukman. 

 Even though I’ve only known Marley for less than a year, anybody who will listen to me will be sure to hear me mention this brother – or something he has said to me –at least once in a casual conversation.  I’ve left conversations with this brother so mesmerized, so inspired, that at one point, I had to record a conversation to keep for those days when intellectual critical analysis with an English-speaking grown person  is harder to find than a payphone.  Once, I even pulled together about 10 homeboys just to hear him speak.  He is raw, he is real, but most of all, he is ruthless in his pursuit of truth and justice.  The brother has marched for climate change and walked the streets of Ferguson in the wake of unrest, and continues to fight against any and all forms of oppression that do not call for all people to be free.  Recently, Jabari has been rolling out his clothing line “Eshu Funk” and they are quite possibly the dopest things thy eyes have ever rested upon…so dope, it got me typing like Shakespeare. “Could you imagine if bustin niggas outta jail became the new Underground Railroad?” –J.Lukman 

  Geoffrey Evans.

 If you are currently on the campus of Florida A&M University, you have seen the work of Geoffrey.  Geoffrey, hands down, is the most adaptive and one of the most innovative graphic designers that I have ever worked with. When he gets in his groove, the work produced is unmatched and unparalleled. Listen…I can be a beast – especially when it comes to anything I put my name on.  As beastly as I am, this brother has yet to produce something I have not fallen completely in love with.  This brother is so bad, I have quite literally never seen a design by him that I did not like   In the Spring, Geoffrey will be launching “Ivory Coast Republic” a graphic design firm that specializes in everything from web design and graphics to small business development.  If you’ve seen the Falling Black in Love Magazine, the design work is 100% Geoffrey.  He is a master of his craft; studying textures, and colors, and fonts just so he makes sure to capture everything one could want in a design.  Book covers, t-shirts, web design, fliers, campaign, etc.  If you know a badder BLACK of All Trades, point em out.

Eric Troy Wright, Jr.
  
      Listen…I’d be a fool if I left myself off of this list.  I would also be lying if I said I had not been putting in some major work in 2014.  In January, I organized a national community service project that brought alumni from all over the nation together. Project 127 called on FAMU alumni to complete at least one service project for every year FAMU had been in existence.  In March, I launched a million dollar fundraising campaign to bring awareness to Falling Black in Love (FBIL).

 In April, myself along with every most of the brothers on this list produced “Falling Black in Love Week.” In July, I officially became the CEO of Falling Black in Love, LLC and in October, I released the inaugural edition of FBILMagazine. Now, I say all of these things in the spirit of service and humility because working with the brothers on this list, building with the brothers on this list, has been an experience in itself.  Every man listed here in one way or another had some type of impact on all of the things that I have been able to do in 2014 so, in essence, I am on this list not as myself, but simply a product of these Bad FAMU brothers.  I am, because they are or, in the words of Muhammad Ali, “me…we.”

A Few More FAMU Brothers You Should Know:

Denzel Stewart – Denzel is advocating on behalf of FAMU and HBCUs like nobody’s business. What he is doing with his social media platforms on behalf of Black institutions is exactly why we need to celebrate brothers like him.  He is a fierce supporter of The Hill who, on any given day, will drop some knowledge on you regarding HBCUs that even the most trained historian will be delighted in knowing.  I have been trying for months to get Denzel to contribute to the next issue of the FBIL magazine…hopefully I can get him for the Black History issue….






Jonathan Moses– Jonathan just wrapped up a study aboard program this semester.  Even though he was out of the country, this brother still found the time to establish a Black Student Union…overseas.  Just last week, he was awarded a $3,000 grant with his business partner to help support and foster economic development in Nigeria. #BAWSE








Maurice Jackson – Few undergraduates have ever impressed me the way he has.  Maurice is a quiet general; no flash. No razzle. No dazzle. But you’ll look up, and this brother is studying abroad in Brazil or South Africa. Or, will #justSoHappen to give away 300 suits to brothers on campus in need. I am not sure what this brother has planned after graduation or the distant future but I can tell you this: whatever it is, he will be the boss, money will be made, and there will be a bunch of FAMUans working for him because he LOVES his (now) alma mater.





Harrison Beasely – I’ve known many a folks to come through FAMU’s Pharmacy School; I don’t  know anyone who has done more to build a campus presence around the FAMU School of Pharmacy than “The Good Dean Doctor.”  Not only is The Good Dean Doctor active in both the local, regional, and National chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi, he is the President of the Pharmacy School Student Government Association as well as a co-founder of the COPPS Gospel Choir. Yes. Them Pharmacy chirren got a choir and They. Don’t. Play!.The Doctor is currently working on a recruitment and peer mentoring program on behalf of COPPS.  The Pharm School Fam should definitely be proud of this brother because he is taking the school to heights unseen.  We won’t hold it against him that his first love is his alma mater, Alabama State University. 


Ronnie Mackey Jr. – I put him on this list not because of what he has done, or what he is doing. Rather, I put Ronnie on this list because of what he will and can do.  Yes, He is the only person in FAMU history to serve as both a SGA VP and Mr. FAMU.  Yes, his popularity eclipses that of any student I have seen on campus since the days of Phillip Agnew. But, Ronnie is on this list because I really don’t think we’ve seen what this brother can really accomplish.  Phil’s got the power, Jay’s got the juice, Ronnie got em both.  If you’ve ever had a conversation with the brother, you know that something truly is special about him; special in the sense that at any given moment, when this brother decides to make a move, any move, you can rest assure that the army of Orange and Green will follow.  He’s done some, but he can always do more. I pray that the events in Ferguson, and New York spark something in that brother because when he moves, I’m moving right along with him.






3 Comments

  1. Great article! All of these men are pioneers. I also enjoyed Jay Sweet's short film "Chain Music" — great concept from an even greater guy. I am proud to say I share my Alma mater with such profound men. Famu Forever!!

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