Open Letter to the UNC Community in Conjunction with the Thirty-fifth Anniversary Celebration of the UNC Marcus Garvey Cultural Center:

TO:  Students, faculty, administrative and classified employees,  Student Affairs, UNC Executive Staff, Dean of Students, UNC Board of Trustees, the Greeley community, UNC alumni, student government and all student programs, cultural centers and services, activities, all sororities and fraternal organizations, the friends of the UNC Alumni Association and especially to the friends of the UNC Marcus Garvey Cultural Center in “Bear Country.”

Congratulations on thirty-five years of success!

As I reflect on thirty-five years ago at UNC,  I remain honored to know that WE did something great and lasting. One of my fondest memories as then president of the Black Student Union (BSU) was our campus-wide award ceremony when at that program we listened to the song  being played to the audience entitled, ‘The Greatest Love of All’ by George Benson. Since that time, Whitney Houston’s version took that beautiful song to a different level. It still sends chills through me when I hear it.

On another note, I agree with the comments made by my predecessor, BSU president, Richard Kynard about the center’s grand opening. As I paraphrase his comments, “…it had been a long hard road. It took twelve years for the Black Student Union’s dream to become a new reality on campus in 1983.”

With your brief indulgence, I would like to make a few historical points (questions) in my letter to you today. I want to pass forward seven important things I have learned or re-learned during these thirty-five years:

  1. Did you know that years before the Civil War that Horace Greeley (1811 - 1812), founder and editor of the New-York Tribune, ran for President of the United States?
  2. Did you know that in the years before the Civil War that Horace Greeley was opposed to slavery and the Mexican War?

Horace Greeley said that “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.”

  • Point #1:  Continue to strive for the very best of who you are everyday with consistency.
  • Point #2:  Remember the definition of “dignity” and teamwork often.
  • Point #3:  Highly effective leadership requires critical thinking.
  • Point #4:  Celebrate life, family, friends and good causes.
  • Point #5:  Let kindness in your heart grow often or you will miss out on the beauty of life itself.
  • Point #6:  Ask questions. For example: Am I leaning on the tree or is the tree leaning on me?
  • Point #7:  Self-actualization will occur on different levels in life-span development if you allow it to happen.

And finally in my letter: At this time I also wish to pledge a five-hundred dollar gift donation to the UNC Marcus Garvey Cultural Center.

May God continue to bless those individuals who are both able and unable to show financial support to the success of students everywhere. 

I urge small business owners and corporations to continue to invest and contribute to the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center at UNC.

I also wish to thank UNC President Norton for her leadership throughout the years. May you have a happy, blessed, and prosperous retirement!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARCUS GARVEY CULTURAL CENTER!

Much love,

Neil Williams
Founding member, Marcus Garvey Cultural Center
Captain (Retired Reserves), U.S. Air Force.

New York City, NY

Peace