February 7, 2012 - Alcorn students, alumni, employees, retirees, local elected officials, legislators, and community members, gathered today in the Oakland Memorial Chapel for Heritage Convocation 2012 where the Honorable Judge Glenda Hatchett of the two-time Emmy nominated nationally syndicated TV show “Judge Hatchett” and member of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons’ Board of Advisors, delivered her convocation address.
Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II presided over the convocation and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Donzell Lee delivered the summons to convocation. “We are here today to celebrate the rich heritage that comprises the Alcorn family,” proclaimed Dr. Lee. “It is not the honor that you take with you that matters, but the heritage you leave behind.” A powerful and moving invocation was offered by Rev. Dr. S. Todd Yeary of the Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. Derek Greenfield, director of Diversity and Equity Engagement at Alcorn, delivered the occasion. “Today we celebrate those giants of the past that allowed us to dream bigger and see farther…all of us who have ancestors that were oppressed but believed that if you can look up, you can get up. Let’s thank those that gave their lives so that we can live better.”
The audience joined Dr. E. Cheryl Ponder, vice president for Student Affairs, in reading of the Litany of Our Heritage.
“Alcorn is a place that is historic for so many reasons,” says Judge Hatchett in her “message from her soul”. “We have to know and appreciate the rich heritage because if you are not clear about your history then you cannot be clear about where you’re going.”
Her fiery speech continued, “You cannot forget the blood that Medgar Evers shed and the sacrifices made by generations that afforded us to be here today. You cannot forget your grandfather who has never seen an inside of a college but worked two jobs so you can stay in college today. That’s what the Convocation is about, it is about honoring them.”
Judge Hatchett concluded her speech with reciting the Alcorn Ode preceded by a standing ovation.
The Convocation continued with President Brown presenting 2012 Heritage Awards to outstanding Alcornites. Dr. Donzell Lee accepted the Academic Heritage Award for his significant contributions to the academic heritage of Alcorn State University and demonstrated excellence in academic programs and student life.
Dr. N. Joyce Payne, founder of Thurgood Marshall College Fund, received the Agricultural Heritage Award for her significant contributions to the agricultural heritage of Alcorn State University and the growth and enhancement of the university’s commitment to the agricultural sciences.
The Athletic Heritage Award was presented to Mr. Willie McGowan Sr.’61 for his significant contributions to the athletic heritage of Alcorn State University, his commitment to producing and developing scholar-athletes who possess intellectual acuity, kinesthetic acumen, and civic gravitas, and exemplifying the university’s tradition of excellence in the athletic arena.
The Access Heritage Award was accepted by Dr. Ivory Phillips on behalf of the Mississippi Coalition of Black Higher Education. This award was granted for the organization’s significant contributions to the access heritage of Alcorn State University, and for promoting collegiate access for all students irrespective of race, class and/or gender.
The Convocation continued with Marcus D. Ward, vice president for Institutional Affairs/interim executive director ASU Foundation, Inc., recognizing former mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, Charles Evers ’50 and former Southeastern regional director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Juanita Sims Doty on behalf of ASU Foundation.
President Brown recognized Mr. Robert D. Gage IV, chairman of the ASU Foundation, for purchasing a new $10,000 organ for the Oakland Memorial Chapel.
The program concluded with President Brown formally introducing former Alcorn student and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers, who will serve as a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Alcorn.
Pictured L to R: Gralon Johnson, special assistant to the President on Strategic Initiatives, Judge Glenda Hatchett, President Brown.