Can't deny the Pride: Visionary leader leads
Apr 18, 2019
Rodney Williams is founder of Claflin Pride. (Panther photo by Angel S. Chedikah)
Williams, a senior majoring in psychology at Claflin University, is a true
visionary leader who has demonstrated his leadership throughout his years
His involvement on campus includes peer and orientation
leader, Envogue model and founder of Claflin Pride.
is a native of Miami, Florida, and is the third oldest of his siblings. He
is a preacher’s child who like many others dealt with the challenges
and shared similarities of coming out as a kid.
a preacher's child and a queer kind of makes it more judgmental to
society. "But when I came out to my parents, I expected my dad
to react, but really it was my mom who took it hard at first,"
I was young, I knew I was different,” Williams said.
A change on campus
decided to give back by investing in an organization called “Claflin
idea of starting the organization developed when Williams, who noticed the
need for change on campus, gave an orientation tour and
was asked about any organizations for LGBTQA.
Pride is an LGBTQA organization that accepts everyone through
application. Claflin Pride does not discriminate. All
just wanted the LGBGTQA community to know that we have a place on campus to
make them feel like home. Sometimes people's differences are not accepted in
society and Claflin Pride allows students to be different and
express themselves freely," Williams said.
The motto is to restate the
idea of coming to seek validation for yourself rather than for anyone
The beginning of success
deciding to create something welcoming for his peers, Williams went on with the
progress. He talked to Dr. Leroy Durant, vice president at
Claflin, about the proposal.
wasn’t until the fall semester (September 2018) of his senior year
that the organization was approved, Williams said.
The organization includes four leaders,
Zayquan Mcneil, Taylor Johnson, Aleeyah Hosey and Madison Wetson.
made a dream of mine came true," Williams said.
"Once I graduate, Zayquan
Mcneil will serve as the president and take my lead. It’s a happy
feeling accomplishing a dream that I finally made come true, a dream
that will help and inspire others. To be able to start an organization
and see that it will still be here when I leave feels like a legacy,"
issue of the United Methodist Church accepting
homosexual clergy surfaced. With the help and support of Claflin
President Henry Tisdale, "we were able to still stand."
of the things that surprised Williams while starting the group was the
on-campus Claflin Pride clothing design and logo sponsored by Barnes and Noble.
"It was unexpected and shows how much we are appreciated
and supported by the community and Claflin."
For those interested in joining,
there will be a forum in April, Williams said.
of the issues that Williams sees in society and even at
an HBCU is acceptance. "When it comes to homosexuality,
especially in black men, is the 'Double Consciousness' that we will
continue to feel. The intersection between race and sexuality, but also
race," Williams said.
a proud queer African-American man, I will feel caution about my sexuality and
race due to society's standards of the average stereotypical
African-American man. But I am who I am, and I accept myself, and Claflin
Pride will too,” he said.