U.S. Africa Command Leader Talks ROTC, Piracy - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward (right) accepts a lifetime leadership award from Albert E. Dotson Jr., chairman of the 100 Black Men of America Inc. (Source: Zef Nikolla)

Two years of mandatory participation in Reserved Officers Training Corp. at Morgan State University in the late 1960s turned into something far greater for Gen. William “Kip” Ward, the fifth black four-star general in U.S. Army history. Now, as the first commander of the U.S. Africa Command, Ward is responsible for helping 53 African nations develop more effective security and military practices. Before being honored with the “Chairman’s Award for Leadership” by the 100 Black Men of America Inc. last week, Ward sat down for an exclusive interview with BlackEnterprise.com to discuss the importance of black colleges, ROTC, and the U.S.’s strategy to deter piracy in Africa.

BlackEnterprise.com: What do you think Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) can do to assist young African American men and women who are interested in achieving a career in the military?

Gen. William “Kip” Ward: First and foremost, they can provide a quality education. That obviously will set our youngsters up for a career in the military or any other endeavor. I think the educational background is the basic ingredient, and it is certainly something that I was very blessed to receive from Morgan State University. HBCUs provide an atmosphere that nurtures and cares, but doesn’t cajole or coddle the student either. That supportive environment says you can be anything you want to be. Those qualities give HBCUs great merit.

What programs has the Army implemented to encourage African Americans to rise through the ranks the way that you did?

The Junior ROTC program on high school campuses does not presuppose a commitment to the military. It provides a structured environment that allows men and women to be responsible, display initiative, and take responsibility for their actions. Clearly those who continue to pursue that in a military career are well served by those experiences, but those life skills are also applicable and transferrable in many fields of endeavor.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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