It Takes a Village: Black Male Initiative
Based in the Avent Ferry Complex, the Black Male Initiative provides a unique experience for Black male students to bond and learn together.
By Naz Santiago, DASA Marketing Intern
The Black Male Initiative (BMI) is a community that offers Black male students brotherhood and a safe space where they can develop professionally, academically and personally. Based in the Avent Ferry Complex, this Living and Learning Village consists of faculty, staff and mentors who volunteer their time to provide a space where members can be around people who challenge, support and push them to be the best version of themselves.
“I wanted to join BMI because as a Black man coming into a [predominantly white institution], we are already at a disadvantage,” said Richard McNeill (psychology ’23). “To be around other Black men and to build comradery was an opportunity that I did not take for granted.”
One of the greatest benefits to being part of BMI is the sense of community where Black male students can connect, support and relate to one another. Members get to build a bond with people who encounter the same or similar challenges.
“I like the camaraderie and the bond we share, whether its planned events or impromptu events…we are always having some type of fun,” said Christopher Wilson (statistics and math education ’24).
The Black Male Initiative offers its students workshops and programs centered around four capitals: aspirational, navigational, social and cultural. BMI provides its students with opportunities that help them reach their career goals, such as professional workshops. Members also learn how to use the campus resources available to them, and they receive additional guidance for how to navigate college and make the best out of their experiences.
BMI students get to immerse themselves in culturally enhancing experiences as well as analyze and discuss their stance in society. There are plenty of opportunities for exploration and education on a wide variety of topics.
“I thoroughly enjoyed our Exploring Black Masculinity workshop,” Wilson said. “I feel like it opened my eyes about the world around me and how the world sees Black men and Black masculinity… that was something that I take forward with me: how I look at the world and the perceptions of other people.”
BMI also offer academic courses associated with the learning village where they get to learn about Impactful, Black historical figures, leadership styles and different philosophies.
In the past, BMI members have traveled to Atlanta, Ga., Selma, Al. and Washington D.C. on Civil Rights Trips. They’ve also had the opportunity to attend the Black Male Retreat hosted by the Ohio State University, where they got to bond and network with Black males from all over the country.
“Being part of BMI has enhanced my NC State education by giving me a sense of community outside of people who I already knew,” McNeill said. “I’ll see some of my fellow village members across campus and it reassures me that I’m meant to be here.”
BMI offers four to five informational sessions that start in late February each year, when prospective students get to meet with current students and ask questions about the experience. The Black Male Initiative also sends a letter to every Black male student joining the university as a way to introduce themselves. To join the Black Male Initiative, students simply have to choose the Black Male Initiative when they fill out the housing application.
Learn more about the Black Male Initiative on their website: https://housing.dasa.ncsu.edu/residential-communities/living-learning-villages/#black-male-initiative.