BSU President hopes to leave behind a legacy for black students

BSU President hopes to leave behind a legacy for black students

BSU President hopes to leave behind a legacy for black students
March 01
12:00 2019

From UNT’s Black Student Union to its Multicultural Center, Stephon Bradberry’s presence in the UNT black community is hard to miss.

Growing up in Niagara Falls, New York, the integrative studies senior said he always knew he was different. At 19, Bradberry said he struggled with depression and among many other things, rededicated his life to Christ.  

“Figuring out who I was [was] the whole deal,” Bradberry said. “I believe I’m destined for greatness and that is because this faith is so deeply rooted and I don’t believe [God] would fail me.” 

Bradberry’s mother was a teen parent, giving birth to Bradberry at the age of 16. He said she played an important role in his life growing up and is still a major part of his support system.

“My mom has always been and will always be my biggest supporter,” Bradberry said. “I come from a long lineage of black males showing each other love and my dad very much showed me tough love.”

As BSU’s current president, Bradberry is able to exercise his leadership skills. BSU is an umbrella organization that helps oversee 35 organizations across campus. He said his inspiration to constantly strive for more comes from many of his family and friends. 

“Black folk are table shakers and movement starters,” Bradberry said. “We have really pushed the world and a country forward with everything going against us.”

Figures like Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, bell hooks, Malcolm X and Elizabeth I are just a few people that Bradberry looks up to. 

“All of these people went through a lot before they got to their positions,” Bradberry said. “[It’s] that common love to do better than what has come before.”

Before Bradberry became BSU’s president, he was a Student Services Intern in the UNT Multicultural Center, where he created its first programming board. He said he now has a relationship with many identity groups across campus.

One of the very first people to learn of Bradberry’s leadership was student services coordinator and later on advisor for BSU, Shabaz Brown. Brown and Bradberry grew together from the start into their current leadership positions.

This month of February, with the help of Brown and Bradberry, the Multicultural Center and BSU created a month-long program highlighting historical figures, colorism, texturism and the history of soul food.

“[Bradberry and I] kind of started last semester planning these events,” Brown said. “We plan things that we thought the black community needed and the things that black students at UNT would enjoy.”

Through Brown and Bradberry, BSU and the Multicultural Center have partnered with organizations such as the NAACP, the Progressive Black Student Organization, the Black Faculty Network, the Black Alumni Network and more. 

“Students don’t really know what kind of power they have as far as their voice [goes],” Brown said. “[Bradberry] really understands his power as a student and [is] empowering others through his voice and using his words to his advantage.”

Under Bradberry’s leadership, BSU now offers committees, more volunteer opportunities and the Sydney Gray Student Development Program, which has produced 40 BSU interns. BSU’s House of Delegates has also grown to 70 members.

“One of the biggest things [BSU has] done is instituted a legislative apparatus,” Bradberry said. “A lot of my predecessors talk about changing things. Their advice was just to change things, implement them and people will follow along’.”

Joshua Harper was a BSU intern in 2016 while Bradberry was the vice president of Phi Kappa Sigma. Harper said Bradberry’s impact has been especially important in the black community.

“[Bradberry] was a male figure that BSU needed,” Harper said. “He’s done so much in the black community and it will be hard for anyone to follow in his footsteps. I am thankful that I was able to see his legacy before his departure [from UNT].” 

Bradberry will graduate UNT this semester and attend American University in Washington D.C. for graduate school in the fall, getting his master’s degree in political communication. Bradberry said that before he graduates, he wants to leave a memorable impact at the university.

“I want to be remembered as a servant, rooted and determined,” Bradberry said.

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Trevon McWilliams

Trevon McWilliams

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