Jasmine Guy urges Leadership Conference participants to converse, share ideas

Posted: Monday, 08 February 2016

TROY - People aren't sharing ideas as they did generations ago and it's time to remedy that problem.

Actor-director-dancer Jasmine Guy delivered that message during her keynote address Saturday at the closing luncheon of the 15th annual Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month at Troy University.

The conference, co-sponsored by the University and the City of Troy, concluded Saturday on the University's Troy Campus with a closing luncheon that featured an awards presentation and Guy's keynote speech.

Guy drew a distinction between the dialogue among the thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance and the relative lack of discourse today.

"Now we are separated," Guy said. "We are not talking to each other. We're not sharing stories. We don't even watch TV together anymore."

She reminded participants that the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington starkly disagreed on important matters, but still came to the table for discussions.

"We aren't supposed to all think the same way. It doesn't make me less black because I don't think exactly the same as you," Guy said. "Are you voicing your opinion? Are you voting? Are you participating and do you understand what goes on during election? Do you know what goes on during the midterm election?"

According to Guy, it's imperative that families have tough, difficult discussions again, something she feels has been lost in recent years.

"I think it's important for us to talk to each other," Guy said. "Don't forget your babies and grandbabies. Don't forget your parents and grandparents. Y'all don't know everything. Those stories at the dinner table, sit there and listen to them for a minute."

Guy has enjoyed a diverse career in television, theater and film. She launched her professional career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, and starred in the original Broadway productions of "Beehive" and "Leader of the Pack." She has also starred in reprised hit productions of "Grease," "The Wiz," and "Chicago."

She won six consecutive NAACP Image Awards for her portrayal of the pretentious and comical southern belle "Whitley Gilbert" on "The Cosby Show" spinoff "A Different World."

A frequent motivational speaker, Guy shares her story openly with those who may benefit from her trials and triumphs, and credits her desire to blend balance and discipline with ambition and service to fuel her passion for the arts.

The annual Leadership Conference is at Troy University seeks to promote dialogue that fosters multicultural collaboration and equip diverse leaders with the tools to better serve their organizations and communities. This year’s theme is "Remembering our Origins, Opportunities, Truth and Spirituality."

The conference opened Friday night with an address by acclaimed Civil Rights leader and speaker Juanita Jones Abernathy.

For more information, visit http://www.troy.edu/leadershipconference/