Marian Wright Edelman: Heritage Convocation is a time for reflection

Marian Wright Edelman: Heritage Convocation is a time for reflection

Alcorn remember your legacy, Medgar Wiley Evers and Alex Haley have walked these grounds

Alcorn State, Miss. (February 7, 2013) –Alcorn students, alumni, employees, and community members, packed the Oakland Memorial Chapel for Heritage Convocation 2013 where the founder and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman brought to remembrance the great legacy of Alcorn as she delivered the keynote address.

Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II presided over the convocation and Executive Vice President and Provost Samuel L. White delivered the summons to convocation.

Rev. C. Edward Rhodes II, the 23rd senior pastor, Mt. Helm Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi, offered a powerful and moving invocation. The 2012-13 Student Government Association President Marcus Mercy and Miss Alcorn Airnecia Mills welcomed the audience.

The audience then joined Vice President for Student Affairs E. Cheryl Ponder in the reading of the Litany of our Heritage from the African American Heritage Hymnal by Delores Carpenter and Nolan E. Williams Jr.

Alcorn’s Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers introduced her long-time friend, Edelman, as a person who has influenced not only America, but also the whole world by “advocating for disadvantaged people, especially children,” for her entire professional life.

In her powerful speech, Edelman remembered Alcorn graduate Medgar Wiley Evers ’52 and his courage, leadership and dedication to the Civil Rights Movement and encouraged the audience to continue his struggle. “There is so much left to do…you have to stay vigilant. We have got to educate our children, give hope to our children and be an example to our children. We must make sure that we do not let all of the sacrifices made by so many like Medgar go backwards.”

Addressing Alcorn students directly, Edelman said, “Work hard young people, do your homework, set goals and work systematically towards those goals.”

“Mass incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid. We have to break up that cradle-to-prison pipeline and make sure that our children come to Alcorn and are educated.” Edelman received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech.

The Convocation continued with President Brown presenting 2013 Heritage Awards to esteemed honorees that demonstrated the university’s commitment to its four pillars of excellence – academic, agricultural, athletic and access. Dr. Derek Greenfield, director, Educational Equity and Inclusion at Alcorn, introduced the honorees.

Marian Wright Edelman received the university’s Academic Heritage Award. Pearlie S. Reed, former assistant secretary for administration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was awarded the Agricultural Heritage Award. On his behalf, the award was received by Homer Wilkes, state director for the National Resource Conservation Service. Alcorn’s legendary basketball coach Davey L. Whitney was honored with the Athletic Heritage Award. The Access Heritage Award was presented to Tom Joyner Jr. on behalf of the Tom Joyner Foundation.

Additionally, the University presented a delayed 2012 Founders Day Award –The Hiram R. Revels Achievement Award, the highest award granted, to Harry E. Johnson. Mr. Johnson is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marcus D. Ward appealed to Alcornites, “Help our students, text ALCORN to 52000 and make your $10 donation today.” He also announced that the Tom Joyner Foundation selected Alcorn as “HBCU of the Month” for November.

In his closing remarks, President Brown recognized the Alcorn Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite marching band and Dr. Renardo Murray ’95, band director, for their first appearance at the Honda Battle of the Bands, and presented Dr. Murray with a letter of acknowledgement of a $20,000 award from the American Honda Association.

Dr. Brown also announced that Dr. Alpha Morris, chair of the Department of Social Sciences, will retire at the end of this academic year, but will come back to cut the ribbon on Dumas Hall when opened.

Inspirational entertainment was provided by recording artist from Houston, Texas, Mr. Norton Campbell, the ASU Men Chorale, organist Tony Gordon, and the Alcorn Concert Choir. Their powerful performances received standing ovations.

The Convocation concluded with Alcornites and guests singing the Alma Mater.


Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships that benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation, and world.