Neckties, Chemistry Majors and Black Excellence


Cultural subversives — wearing coats and ties in college.

There’s a lot more coming out of the black experience at Virginia Commonwealth University than the 30 students inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement who occupied the president’s office last November touting their grievances about VCU’s treatment of blacks and minorities.

A couple of months ago I highlighted the initiative of two recent black VCU grads who tapped their university contacts to help launch a venture that uses credit and debit cards as vehicles for donating money to not-for-profit causes. Now I bring your attention to three young men — Jonathan Brooks and twins Terry and Terrence Everett — who, in the words of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, have turned a 30-second video into a “viral sensation.”

The trio’s 30-second rap about “black excellence” has been viewed more than 35 million times. Their #blackexcellence Twitter account draws attention to the achievements of not only African-American artists and athletes but scientists and businesses.

As aptly described by the T-D: “Wearing dapper suits and Windsor-knot ties, the three men rap about their majors in medicine, dentistry and neurology.” To these young men, black excellence means “looking smart and being smart. It means studying, working hard and aspiring to a greater good.”

They describe their typical day as attending class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., going to the library from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and working all day Sunday. They have instituted among themselves “dapper Mondays” where they dress up in suits and ties. “You have to dress the way you want to be addressed,” said Terrence Everett. “Plus people like it, and it makes you feel good.”

Something tells me that these three young men will have a very different college experience than the activists who complain about their alienation and demand more funding for African-American cultural events. I’m guessing these guys don’t spend a lot of time sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. The last thing they need is a ringing endorsement from an aging, conservative white guy, but I will hazard a prediction that if they live by the positive attitudes and values they articulate, they will get far in life — and serve as examples of black excellence for others.

Check out their website at

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