Director, writer and producer Spike Lee asked the campus community to value education and focus less on money in his lecture in Burt Kahn Court last Thursday, and people listened.
“You could’ve heard a pin drop in that room,” professor Raymond Foery said. “Everybody was listening to him; there was no chatter. The room was paying attention to him, so I’d like to think his message got across.”
Lee advised students to find something they love “not based on how much you want to make.”
“At this step many students think that when they choose their major, sometimes they base it on money – on how much you’re going to make when you come out of school,” Lee said. “That’s the wrong way to think.”
Foery, a film, video and interactive media professor, teaches “Spike Lee’s America,” a QU201 section. He had the opportunity to meet the director that he’s studied for many years.
“I think the single most important thing he said, and excuse me if I’m making a generalization, which I think this generation needs to hear – ‘it’s not about the money,’” Foery said.
Lee covered a wide range of topics including family, sports, his beginnings as a filmmaker, and education.
“Our ancestors knew education would be one of the vehicles that would lead us out of bondage,” Lee said. “They were willing to risk their lives to read and write. We fast-forward to today and now if you pursue academics, you’re white.”
Lee blamed the change of value in education on crack, saying that the illegal drug makes “people lose their souls.” Three out of four African-American households have an absent father and there are more African-Americans in jail than in college, Lee said. He called to the next generation of students for change.
“It’s genocide when young black kids equate intelligence with acting white,” Lee said. “There is no color. There is no race. Education is for all. I commend anybody who has not succumbed to that peer pressure and tried to dumb down so you can fit in.”
Some students took this lesson to heart.
“Education is really important,” junior Sherdale Hendrickson said. “Obviously we’re all students at QU so we know that, but for someone who is a filmmaker to really push that on everyone in the room, I thought it was a big deal.”
Over winter break Hendrickson and his friends came up with a movie idea that he now wants to pursue further.
“It inspired me to do more,” Hendrickson said. “I thought of more that I want to do with the script now that I came to see Spike. Seeing someone that was that successful at what he does, it made me want to go home and hammer out a script and see how it goes.”
Lee graduated from the Graduate Film Program at New York University, and he is now the artistic director of the program.
“Film chose me,” Lee said. “I say my prayers before I go to bed because I am doing what I love. Most of the people on this earth go to their graves doing a job they hate.”
Photo credit: Ilya Spektor