Congressman Thompson keynotes Alcorn’s Heritage Convocation

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Understanding your past is key to determining your future. 

Lorman, Miss. (February 7, 2014) – More than 140 years after its founding, Alcorn State University continues to celebrate its legacy during its annual Heritage Convocation held today in the historic Oakland Memorial Chapel. Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson who is serving his 11th term in Congress served as the keynote speaker.

Congressman Thompson addressed the audience concerning the rich heritage and legacy of Alcorn— from Hiram Rhodes Revels, the school’s first president, to leaders such as Medgar Wiley Evers ’52, Donald Driver ’99 and Alyce Griffin Clarke ’61, proud Alcornites and members of the Mississippi Legislature.

“Continue to stand proudly for Alcorn,” said Congressman Thompson as he acknowledged all the good news he is constantly hearing about Alcorn. “From its humble roots, founded on the principle of separate and not equal, Alcorn continues to rise against all odds.”

The school that initially enrolled 179 former slaves and their children now annually attracts about 4,000 students from all over the Magnolia state and the world. Alcorn embraces its growing diversity while sharing its proud history with students.

“Alcorn taught me the importance of knowing where you come from and gave me the knowledge and self confidence to determine my own future,” said Clarke, who represents the 69th district in the Mississippi Legislature. She graduated from Alcorn in 1961.

Clarke, just as Alcorn’s current students, learned the school’s history in University Life, a class that teaches students about academic rigor and Alcorn’s proud history.

In 1871, Mississippi bought what had been Oakland College for $40,000 and established a university, naming it Alcorn University after James Alcorn, the state’s governor at the time. The initial 225-acre campus grew to encompass more than 1,700 acres.

Executive Vice President and Provost Samuel L. White presided over the program and recognized Alcorn President Norris A. Edney, Sr. and Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Myrlie Evers Williams. “The school founded to educate slave descendants grew to produce civic leaders, Ag specialists, doctors, lawmakers and more,” said White.

“Alcornites discovered their talents on this historic campus and have made significant contributions to our state and country,” said Congressman Thompson. “Every Alcornite, including the scholars on this campus today, owe it to themselves and their communities to discover their talents and excel. And yes, you can brag about Alcorn. You earned that right.”

President Edney’s remarks concerning the vitality of Alcorn’s heritage and its people moved the audience to applause.

The Alcorn State University Men Chorale and the Alcorn State University Concert Choir both delivered superb performances garnering standing ovations. The musical highlight of the program was Alcorn graduate student Erica Davis, who sang “Blessed Assurance.” Her moving performance received a personal invitation from Congressman Thompson to perform in Washington, D.C. for a future annual event.

Education is the only real way out,” shared Congressman Thompson. “You can only move forward by knowing your cultural and Alcorn histories. This will help you understand the past and use it to determine your future.”  


Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collabor