Tuskegee is a powerhouse when it comes to producing greatness. It is the alma mater of famous musician Lionel Richie, radio host Tom Joyner, inventor of the Super Soaker Lonnie Johnson, and newly acclaimed author Robert Constant. Since Mr. Constant graduated from Tuskegee in 1998, he has been on a road to success. His most recent success includes writing Tuskegee’s first licensed children book, Hey Tuskegee!
A Legacy to Continue
Tuskegee was always in Mr. Constant’s blood, as he is the third among his relatives to attend the university. In fact, one family member was an important figure in Tuskegee’s history — his great grand-aunt, Dame Albertha Isaacs. She was the first Bahamian woman to be awarded the honorary title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Dame Albertha Isaacs played alongside the third president of Tuskegee and founder of the United Negro College Fund — Dr. Frederick D. Patterson. While playing at the Southern Open Championship at Tuskegee, she would go on to win the singles match in 1934 and doubles match in 1937. Although, she did not attend Tuskegee, she influenced Mr. Constant and his other relatives to attend Tuskegee.
Sports to Books
Mr. Constant was not always an author. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with hopes of going into the sports business. During his senior year, he landed an internship with Southern Methodist University’s Department of Athletics.
After his internship with Southern Methodist University, he scored another major sports internship — this time with the Miami Marlins. The internship was unexpected, as he earned it through networking. He was called to do an impromptu interview and he even noted, “I did not have but one suit given to me by former dean of the College of Business, Benjamin Newhouse.”
Mr. Constant’s journey took him on to careers with the University of Virginia and Rutgers University. However, it was a career in consulting that ignited his fuel to write a children’s book. Mr. Constant explained, “I missed the university environment, so while I was searching for another job, I recalled that other universities where I worked all had children’s books and wondered why Tuskegee didn’t have one?”
“Sometimes you have to be the person to take the lead,” Mr. Constant went on to say. As a result, he would sign a contract with Mascot Books and begin developing his new book in the blink of an eye.
Although there are numerous books about the university, all of those books are geared toward adults. Hey Tuskegee! gives children a chance to learn Tuskegee’s spirit, culture and history through a child’s eyes. Not only does Mr. Constant want to capture the attention of children, but he also wants to capture the entire community by saying, “Tuskegee is a very special
place. I love its history, but a lot of people don’t know its history. They have no idea who the Tuskegee Airmen were. My goal is to introduce young people to the world of Tuskegee.”
Writing a children’s book has taught Mr. Constant that you are never too old for something. “Calculate a new risk,” he says. As for his journey as an author, it does not stop here. Readers can expect his second book, Hello Grandma, within the next year. During homecoming this October, he will be doing a book signing (Friday through Sunday) and will be giving back to the university by donating 10 percent of the proceeds of each book to the university general fund.
Tuskegee is founded on rich principles and will continue to follow these principles, as he noted, “It is all about leveraging our resources to promote Tuskegee and sharing our stories.”