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Men of Black Excellence Awards ceremony honors African-American men on campus

Sunday was a day of recognition for many of Ohio University's African-American students, faculty and staff.

Several of the most accomplished African-American students, faculty and staff were recognized during the first Men of Black Excellence (MOBE) Awards ceremony on Sunday evening in Walter Hall Rotunda.

The event, which was held to bring public recognition to these men, was sponsored by Sigma Psi, an unincorporated association of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Ohio University Student Senate and the Ohio University Alumni Association.

"I wanted to give the black men on campus the recognition they deserve," said Richard Moses, event coordinator and master of ceremonies. "The African-American women have the Black Diamond Awards, so I felt that the outstanding African-American men on campus needed recognition also."

In addition to the presentation of six awards, the event featured singing, poetry, dramatic and dance performances by undergraduate students.

The evening's award winners were:

  • Academics – DeMarcus Fry
  • Campus Involvement – Julius Smiley
  • Community Service and Performing Arts – Jeffrey Billingslea
  • Mr. Congeniality – Nile Harris
  • Faculty/Staff Mentor – Tyrone Carr, executive director of The Interlink Alliance

After the presentations and performances were over, Ohio University alumnus Aaron Jeter encouraged the audience to strive for success during his keynote speech.
Jeter, an advanced placement psychology and world history teacher at Solon High School near Cleveland, recalled his memory of being turned down for a prestigious corporate business internship during his senior year of high school. He blamed a lack of preparation and a lackadaisical interview for the failed opportunity. He said he promised himself that he would learn from his mistakes and work harder next time to seize the opportunity. After several years of hard work, focus and determination, he told the audience that he received that same internship.

Jeter said African-American men must work hard to debunk the media's negative portrayal of them. He said they are too often presented in stories as unemployed, high school dropouts and incarcerated. He said all African-American men need to develop a blueprint and a process to be successful and noted six things they need to do to challenge themselves:

1.  Increase their cognitive ability by engaging in new activities
2.  Challenge their brain so that it will stay sharp
3.  Think creatively
4.  Do things the hard way to increase their intelligence
5.  Network with older and diverse people because mentorship is a key to growth
6.  Practice humility to learn lifelong lessons.

"Your experience at Ohio University is what you make of it," Jeter told the students in the audience. "The more excellent you make it, the more excellent you will become."


Freshman Jeffrey Billingslea belts out a tune during the Men of Black Excellence Awards on Sunday, April 13 in Walter Hall. Billingslea won two of the six awards during the ceremony. Photo by Lauren Pond.


Ohio University alumnus and Cleveland native Aaron Jeter delivered the keynote address during the Men of Black Excellence Awards. The Solon High School teacher gave the students some tips to be successful. Photo by Lauren Pond.


Five of Ohio University's most talented undergraduate students sing a cappella during the Men of Black Excellence Awards ceremony on April 13, 2014. The singers left to right are Richard Moses, Julius Smiley, Lorne Owens, Khari Curry and Jeffrey Billingslea. Photo by Lauren Pond.


Members of the Athens Black Contemporary Dancers perform during the Men of Black Excellence Awards on Sunday, April 13. Photos by Lauren Pond.


Student Jeffrey Billingslea (left) accepts the Performing Arts Award from Executive Director of The Interlink Alliance Tyrone Carr. Billingslea also won the Community Service Award during the ceremony. Carr won the Faculty/Staff Mentor Award later in the ceremony. Photo by Lauren Pond.


Senior theater performance major Brian Steele performs a one-man monologue during the Men of Black Excellence Awards on April 13, 2014. Photo by Lauren Pond. 


Freshman Marcus Cole delivers a powerful spoken word performance during the Men of Black Excellence Awards on April 13, 2014. Photo by Lauren Pond.