Actor and producer Tim Reid, former CNN Headline News anchor Lyn Vaughn and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and star of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” were the guest speakers for the ninth annual Leadership Conference Celebrating Black History Month in February.
The Leadership Conference, co-hosted by Troy University and the City of Troy, annually brings together civic and community leaders, clergymen and business leaders in a collaborative and education forum.
During the opening session of this year’s conference, Vaughn questioned the wisdom of political pundits and “the mainstream media.”
“Turn away from ignorant news commentary,” Vaughn told the nearly 400 assembled, “the pundits don’t know what’s going to happen any more than you do … become discerning consumers of the news and pay attention to what it’s doing to you.”
Vaughn criticized the national news media, characterizing modern coverage as “cheap” and “pundit-driven.”
“These so-called experts – these pundits – why listen to them,” she queried. “The thrill is gone [in finding out the news of the day]. The news has become punditry and analysis and I’m sick of it. Tell me what happened today and not what will happen.”
During the conference’s second day, Burruss encouraged conference participants to surround themselves with good, quality people.
“I’m a work-in-progress like everyone else, but the network of people you have around you is important,” Burruss said. “If starting a business is your dream, then develop relationships with those who have been successful in that type of business. I’ve heard it said, ‘Your network is your net worth,’ and I believe that is true. You never know what may come out of a new relationship you develop.”
Burruss was a member of the R&B group “Xscape” that rose to fame in the 1990s and turned to songwriting when the group disbanded in 1999. That same year, she penned the No. 1 single “No Scrubs” for the R&B group “TLC,” which later earned the Grammy Award for the Best R&B Song. Since that time, Burruss has written songs for artists such as “NSYNC,” “Joe” and “Boyz II Men.”
During the conference’s closing session, Reid told conference participants that today’s young people need the support and guidance of their elders.
Reid, is perhaps best known for his role of disc jockey “Venus Flytrap” on the television series “WKRP in Cincinnati,” and has also appeared in starring roles in the series “Frank’s Place” and “Sister, Sister.”
“Our young people need us,” said Reid, owner of New Millennium Studios. “Our young people today need intervention. Who’s talking to them? Who is helping them to shape their values and beliefs?”
Reid said the biggest problem facing the world today is a lack of character.
“Dr. King had a dream that one day our children would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he said. “What is the content of their character today? We are now at an age and time where the survival or failure of the world hinges on the content of our character. Do we have the type of character necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century? I believe we have some character-building to do.”