Black Student Union Welcomes Actress Keke Palmer as Keynote Speaker

BSU held a special seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 23 with actress Keke Palmer as the guest speaker. (Photo courtesy of BSU Instagram)

Assistant Entertainment Director / Sophia Medina

As Black History comes to its annual end, the Black Student Union isn’t slowing down on events to continue celebrating. This week, the student organization held a special seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 23 with actress Keke Palmer as the guest speaker to end the month-long event with a bang. 

Keke Palmer is a renowned-actress and activist who is known for her roles in acclaimed films such as “Akeelah and The Bee” and “Jump In,” along with TV shows such as “True Jackson VP.” She hosted her very own talk show “Just Keke,” and co-hosted the “Good Morning America” talk show “Strahan, Sara, and Keke.”

Joining the recognized actress was Esi Fynn-Obeng, a former FIU psychology and communications major who continues to fight for the economic and social justices of African Americans.

Kicking off the seminar, Fynn-Obeng asked questions regarding the star’s time in the spotlight.

Palmer discusses how she balances her life when it comes to music, hosting, and acting through her support system along the way. 

“I have always had a good support system when it came to my mom, teaching me how to advocate for myself and also own all that I am.” She continues “…I was always encouraged and that’s how I was able to evolve and transition how I did because my mom really supported me in embracing all that I can do.”

Later, Fynn-Obeng asked Palmer about the biggest influence in her life, leading into an in-depth discussion on how the guest speaker’s mother impacted her when it came to obtaining stardom. 

“As I got older, I realized all the things she really taught me and prepared me for when it comes to understanding this [acting] business and I am just grateful because she set me up for success,” Palmer said. “She always kept it real. It’s so special because my mom did theater growing up and that’s how her and my father met… that’s how my mom and I began to realize we shared that same passion.”

Fynn-Obeng and Palmer discussed how important it is to have a support system, especially when coming from a background such as the renowned actress. This led to the conversation on how black people can achieve their dreams, even through the struggles they may face.

“I want people watching me that look like me to know that we are the same. And there is nothing that can stop you from being where I am, but yourself. You know, the black hardships and the women hardships thing, no, we can overcome that and I’ve seen it.”

Mental health is another discussion that was brought during the seminar. Fynn-Obeng asked Palmer how she has been able to maintain her mental health during the current pandemic.  

The actress shared how much of her time has been focused on being alone while coming up with ways to center and enhance the love for herself.

As she continues to juggle many projects at once, such as her acting and singing career, she’s focused on unwinding and taking a break. 

Afterward, Fynn-Obeng asked Palmer how others can maintain joy as a black person, especially during the recent happenings of the Black Lives Matter protest and the incident with George Floyd.

The actress gave advice on how this can be done.  

‘Keep your imagination open… if you’re not, that means that you are not seeing a future or thinking about what you are going to do next… Focus on what you want to see or ‘manifest,’” Palmer said. “As much as there are negative things, there is just as much positive. There is alot of us who love each other and want to lift each other up.”

Palmer continues by discussing the boundaries that people must set in place when it comes to things they see, such as the incident with George Floyd

. She shares her experience witnessing the news on the situation, how it pushed her to join the BLM marches, and even led to an incident with the national guard. 

Now that I have all this in my hands, what can we do with this? From that moment, I internalized and held on to so much until I was out in the marching and said all that stuff to the national guard,” she said. “That is all it’s going to lead you to, you can’t keep that in. It is that kind of trauma and pain that black people have been holding on for centuries.”

In June 2020, Palmer participated in a BLM protest shortly after the incidents of Gorge Floyd and Breonna Taylor. A video circulated of her pleading with the national guard to join and march with everyone to help stop governmental oppression. 

As the event came to an end, Fynn-Obeng and Palmer held a Q&A where viewers can ask the famous activist questions about her career, her life as a black woman, and advice. 

Palmer spoke about representation within the Black community, gave advice for those who refuse to “follow beauty standards,” and gave suggestions as to how people can achieve their dreams, even when they seem big. Moreover, she talked about things in the music and movie industry that are long overdue in consideration of Black women. 

BSU will be hosting more events this week in celebration of Black History Month.

For those interested in attending, you can check out the official PantherNOW event guide or follow the organization’s Instagram page: @bsufiu.

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