FOR FOUR YEARS, Clemson’s Men of Color National Summit has featured an impressive lineup of speakers. Leaders from business, government, athletics and academics have spoken to students about their potential and pathways to success. This year, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined the all-star lineup of speakers March 3-4 in Greenville.
Johnson brought his inspiring story of athletic and entrepreneurial success to the high school students in attendance, including members of Clemson’s college readiness program, the Tiger Alliance. He joined keynote speakers and entertainment, including Alberto Gonzales, 82nd U.S. attorney general; Jim Murren, chair and CEO of MGM Resorts International; Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, host of American Ninja Warrior and former NFL player; Robert E. Johnson, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Johnathan Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ Domestic Policy Council; Peter Villegas, vice president and head of Coca-Cola’s Office of Latin Affairs; and Victor Robertson of Three Mo’ Tenors.
Lee Gill, chief inclusion officer and special assistant to the president for inclusion and equity at Clemson, sees the lineup of speakers as the embodiment of the summit’s goal: “Our keynote and breakout speakers are testaments of what happens when the opportunity gap is overcome and organizations commit themselves to diversity and inclusion.”
Tiger Alliance students are part of a college readiness experience that includes relationships with mentors, college visits, college-prep workshops and attendance at the Men of Color Summit. The Tiger Alliance program kicked off at the summit in 2017 and has already shown what is possible when African American and Latino students are empowered and engaged in their education; seniors from the 2019 Tiger Alliance cohort had a 98 percent graduation rate.