Davis lecturer says U.S. in new season

Monday, February 16, 2004

Diversity is the country's new season, said one man who has experienced many political and social seasons over the last seven decades.

Public relations executive Ofield Dukes, of the Washington, D.C.-based Ofield Dukes and Associates, spoke to more than 300 people at Southeast Missouri State University's Michael Davis Lecture Sunday night. The annual lecture is held in memory of Southeast mass communication student Michael Davis, who died 10 years ago as a result of a hazing incident.

"Any college student graduating should have some knowledge of relating to people of all races and creeds and cultures because of the diversity of America," Dukes said.

At one time, he said, America was divided into simply black and white. That season has passed. Now, cultures from around the world are changing the mix.

Dukes's second focus was on seven principles that helped guide him in life. He said people must:

know themselves, which helps in having a better sense of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence.

have an "ability to deal with obstacles and move on."

have "a passion to be excellent."

have the right contacts.

understand that "not all that glitters is gold."

have an "intense desire and determination to persevere and succeed."

work hard and give their best in life.

Since 1972, Dukes has been a public relations consultant for every Democratic presidential campaign. He was deputy director of public affairs for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity for the Johnson administration.

Students said that Dukes' life and message encouraged them.

"He grew up in a time when it was really hard to make it as an African-American, and he did it," said junior Pepper Newton. She attended the lecture because she was impressed with what she had read about him on the Internet.

Sophomore Ronald Jordan said he needs to "treat every day like it's my last." noting that Duke woke up each morning with his passion on his mind.

At the lecture Perspectives Association of Minority Communicators, a new student organization, was recognized by Student Government President Adam Schaefer. One of the organization's first jobs was to encourage more minority students to attend the lecture.

Robert White III, president of the group, said the attendance at Sunday's lecture was the highest for any of the Michael Davis lectures.

jmetelski@semissourian.com

335-6611

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