By Jo Heffner
Kwabena Antoine Nixon was only 11 when he lost his father to an act of street violence in Chicago.
Today Nixon is a spoken word poet and the author of “Eye Write What Eye See.” He recently brought his message of optimism and encouragement to Gateway as part of the Black History Month celebration.
Nixon grew up known as “Antoine.” After moving to Milwaukee in search of a clear purpose and a fresh start, he adopted the name Kwabena, which means “inspirator,” and began offering his words of hope at schools, churches and prisons.
“Don’t quit. Hold on,” Nixon told students. “Believe in the power of your story.”
Nixon also advised students: Be careful of the company you keep and make choices to be successful. “Stay ‘MAD,’” which stands for Motivated And Determined, Nixon said.
We all come across obstacles, but Nixon said he always remembers what his grandmother told him when faced with adversity, “It ain’t never been too easy. It ain’t never been too hard. It’s what must be done.”
As attendees lined up to meet Nixon and receive an autographed copy of his book, his face lit up with each greeting. He offered handshakes and hugs as students shared some of their own stories.
Student Charles Griffin said of Kwabena and his message, “It was definitely a moving talk, one you could relate to.”
Other Black History Month events included a showing of “The Help” and shows by a comedian and a West African dance troupe.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to provide socio-cultural engagement that promotes community, inter-cultural collaboration as well as the celebration of education on diversity,” said Vanessa Perez, multicultural student support specialist.