Radio personality Charlamagne Tha God encouraged college students to create their own opportunities by emphasizing individuality, ongoing education and technology in a lecture Thursday evening at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus.
The 39-year-old New York Times Best Selling author and host of the nationally syndicated morning radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” was a guest speaker at FIU’s Student Government Association Lecture Series for Black History Month. The event, held in the Wolfe University Center Ballrooms, was free for students.
During the lecture, the radio and television personality highlighted his experiences and ultimate rise to fame detailed in his book, “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It.”
“I was going down the wrong path, and I knew in order to change my life I had to change my lifestyle,” he said. “When I became an intern at Z-93 Jamz! in Charleston, South Carolina, I was just happy to be around something positive.”
Charlamagne, born Lenard McKelvy, spoke of the unique ability young adults have to create their own opportunities using modern media platforms.
“I had to literally wait for someone to give me an opportunity,” he said. “Now, if you want to be on radio, you can start a podcast or create YouTube videos and build a resume.”
He also tackled racial topics and encouraged students of color to prioritize their own prosperity.
“Honestly, I don’t give a damn what white people are doing and neither should you,” he said. “We have to focus on ourselves and our well-being first.”
Fielding questions from the audience, Charlamagne used “Donkey of the Day,” a popular segment from his show in which he calls out poor and unwise behavior, as an example of the importance of remaining humble and open to learning.
“I don’t ever claim to know everything,” he said. “I give people and myself the credit we deserve for being dumb. A know-it-all ultimately knows nothing.”
Approximately 150 students attended the lecture. Alisa Pleasant, a FIU broadcast media major, said she was eager to be motivated by Charlamagne’s honesty, despite what his naysayers may think.
“A lot of people consider him to be controversial, but I think that it’s good to have two different sides to things and believe he brings that to society,” she said.
Leo Cosio, SGA Biscayne Bay Campus president, said he thought having Charlamagne speak during Black History Month was a good choice for the school because of his ability to connect with young adults.
“He offers genuine support, guidance and admiration for our generation—especially the black community—when a lot of other older adults tend to only talk negatively about us,” he said. “He uplifts us, and it’s important for us to see that someone is rooting for us.”