Gordon State College AAMI Revamped, Celebrates Black History Month in Partnership With Steve Harvey’s Legacy Ranch Manager

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

Gordon State College African American Male Initiative (AAMI) hosted a series of events in the month of February as a part of the group’s revamp initiative for AAMI and celebrated Black History Month including a partnership with Pastor Marlin “Mo” Lynch III of Steve Harvey’s Legacy Ranch in Upson County.

“Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them,” Lynch said. “My goal is to leave the leaders of today at Gordon State College better than what I found them. I just want to put another tool in their life toolbox. We need each other to survive.”

GSC AAMI is led by a committee of faculty, staff, and community members. Its mission included an integrated program model of academic and social tools that supported students in adopting a positive mindset to successfully complete classes, elevate their cumulative GPAs and matriculate through each academic level and graduate.

“We hope that this will result in more opportunities for our young men,” said Joba Duke, GSC academic services assistant and GSC ’22 alumna. “We are enthusiastic for what is to come for the GSC AAMI program.”

One of AAMI’s service projects included a visit to Lamar Co. Primary School on Feb. 17, where members read books to kindergarten classes including "Hair Love," by Matthew A. Cherry and "Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington," by Jabari Asim.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, AAMI members along with Mark Smith, assistant principal from Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School in Monroe County, and Lynch visited Culloden City Cemetery and honored the legacy of civil rights leader, Jo Ann Gibson Robinson.

“The theme of the day was ‘Remembering the Past, Changing the Future.’ It’s the small victories and opportunities in life that we shouldn’t take for granted,” said Elijah Clemmons, GSC human services major. “One of those small victories will lead to a greater impact. And though the past may not have changed anything, we can remember from it and change the future.”

Robinson played an integral role in the movement of civil rights by creating and organizing the distribution of thousands of leaflets that called for a one-day bus boycott on Dec. 5, 1955 following the arrest of Rosa Parks. She assisted with the carpools that took people to and from work during the boycott. Robinson worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout the movement until the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses in 1956.

GSC AAMI group met monthly and had topic-driven discussions hosted by guest professional speakers to enrich their life-learning and scholarship. The month of February focused on finances with a lecture titled, “Your Finances, Your Future.” Lynch hosted one of the two sessions while Aaron M. Brown, commercial and agricultural lending specialist and former GSC part-time instructor and AAMI program coordinator hosted the second session.

“If you can’t control your money, making more won’t help. A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Have a plan for finances,” Lynch said.

AAMI’s mission and events blended with one of GSC’s core values in empowering and promoting academic rigor and personal growth that resulted in ethical and honest long-standing critical inquiry with a global perspective.

“Your legacy will outlive you. Don’t value what you leave to a person, but rather value what you leave in a person,” Lynch said. “That’s the measure of greatness and the new generational wealth of knowledge.”