Because Of Them
Bowie State Alum Eunique Jones Gibson, Founder of the Because of Them We Can Campaign, Addresses BSU 2018 Commencement
Additional reporting By Damita Chambers and Eunique Jones Gibson // PHOTOS COURTESY BSU
She took the stage and admitted that she was now on the receiving end of one of those payback moments.
Eunique Jones Gibson is a graduate of Bowie State University (2007) and her “Because of Them We Can Campaign,” which went viral and catapulted her work into the global spotlight, also placed her onstage at the Spring 2018 graduation ceremony May 22 delivering the keynote address.
“If you ask me what was said about the ceremony when I graduated, I could not tell you,” she admitted. Her excitement at the time clouded the details of what occurred. All that mattered was walking across that stage and getting that piece of paper. “So now I’m up here and it’s like my mother used to say: “what goes around, comes around.”
But Gibson was in front of a home team crowd. The media professional was born and raised in Maryland and was at home in front of the 600+ graduates.
She shared five points she believed advisable to the exuberant audience while weaving in important aspects of BSU’s storied history relevant to current victories and challenges faced by its graduates.
First, Gibson encouraged listeners to take time to breathe in their victories and avoid the ‘check the box and move on’ rush. She encouraged them to “fail fast” in order to get bad ideas and directions out of the way. The former communications major cited her early struggles as an accounting major guided, in part, by her family who suggested that with such a degree she could get a “good government job.” After enough failed accounting exams, Eunique’s passion for media guided her path. With her afro swaying smoothly with each nod of her head, she encouraged graduates to take the risk in life and to “always make excellence your goal.” Citing Dr. Rev. Dr Martin Luther King’s reference, if you are going to sweep streets, make sure you are the best.
“If education is the great equalizer, excellence is the accelerator,” Gibson said.
Her fifth point was a reminder in humility. “It’s bigger than you,” Gibson shared. “When you don’t want to get out of bed, when you think it’s not that important know that someone, somewhere is counting on you to be the person you were created to be doing the thing you were created to do.”
Seeming to enjoy the moment as much as the audience, the esteemed photographer shared several other profound pieces of advice to the class of 2018, including: "Don't waste your energy trying to prove those who don't matter and didn't believe in you wrong. Spend your energy proving those who believed in you before you believed in yourself, right."
About Ms. Gibson
Eunique Jones Gibson is an award-winning content creator, director and speaker who founded the iconic Because of Them We Can photo campaign. Gibson develops campaigns that ignite conversation and introspection. Her talent is to get people talking: either through her campaigns and the awareness generated by their message or through her role as a speaker, host or moderator at events and panels that address timely and relevant issues impacting a variety of communities.
Gibson recently directed commercial spots featuring NBA star Kevin Durant and R&B artist Jennifer Hudson. She began her career in online advertising with Microsoft and over the past decade she has worked with a variety of companies such as American Family Insurance, Nickelodeon, 1-800-Flowers, Green Bay Packers, Kathy Ireland Worldwide and Custom Ink to name a few.
In February 2012, following the death of Trayvon Martin, Gibson created her first photo awareness campaign I AM Trayvon Martin. The campaign spread through social media and online news outlets around the world and inspired others to use their voice to highlight social injustices and the need for change.
As a result, in 2013, Gibson launched Because of Them We Can, an award-winning campaign and movement that helps people re-imagine their possibilities. Launched during Black History Month with a mission to empower the next generation to honor the legacy of their ancestors, the campaign featured photographs of adorable children channeling leaders, activists, and celebrities, past and present. It has evolved into a positive platform for Black excellence that reaches millions of people each month.
Throughout her travels promoting Because of Them We Can, Gibson met fellow dreamers and started thinking, “What if we had a space where we could build our dreams and at the same time, build our village?” So, she created it. In 2018, Gibson launched Dream Village, a co-working space for dreamers that will allow them to build a supportive community in both physical and virtual spaces. The space hopes to bring back the village values that every community needs. The very first Dream Village opened right outside of Washington, DC, in Hyattsville, Maryland, in February 2018.