Black History Month speaker inspires room full
Academy award-nominated actress Taraji Henson spoke to a packed auditorium of UALR students and surrounding community at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4 in the University Theatre. In celebration of Black History Month, Henson delivered a powerful speech dedicated to the youth, which she titled “Finding Faith in Yourself.”
Though a woman of self-professed Christian faith, Henson dispelled from the start of her speech any claims of preaching.
“The fact that people wanna hear what I have to say means that I’m on the right path. I’m not here to push religion on you. I’m just here to tell you how I got through it,” she said.
Best known for her roles as Shug in “Hustle & Flow,” Queenie in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and Lauren in “Think Like A Man,” Henson addressed her audience about the prudence behind positive thinking, perseverance and maintaining faith.
“Faith is not sitting on the sofa waiting for a miracle,” she said. “Faith is knowing that if you do the work, if you give your thousand-million-gazillion percent, the outcome is so much better than what your mind can grasp.”
The actress spoke of a strong love for her father, who surprised her with many riddles and ambiguity as she struggled through life.
“The man spoke in metaphors! But one thing he always told me is, ‘Faith simply states that what you profess is what you possess.’ If you continue to say, ‘I am a winner’, then the universe will act accordingly. I will. I am.”
Henson continued to assert what she thinks to be the necessity for having faith.
“Nothing is unattainable when you believe in God, which allows you to believe in yourself,” she said. “Faith and fear cannot co-exist. You have to choose sides. Having faith means that there is a chance you’re gonna fall. When you fall, you might [immediately] get back up. But it’s HOW you get back up that makes the difference. And you know what happens? A light turns on. When you take those 1 or 2 steps, God’ll take 10 more for you.”
After her hour-long inspirational oration, Henson allowed for a brief question-and-answer session from the audience. Those with questions approached microphones located on either side of the stage.
The next scheduled event for Black History Month is a Jabali Afrikan dance at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13. in DSC Ledbetter Hall.