Alcorn State University Commemorates 1890 Morrill Act with Walk/Run and Health Fair

The Alcorn State University community joined other 1890 land-grant institutions Thursday, April 23 in the national celebration of 1890 Wellness Day by hosting a Walk/Run and Health Fair, to commemorate the signing of the Second Morrill Act, which helped to establish Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities.

The Morrill Act, a key piece of legislation, was instrumental in providing funding for state-supported institutions of higher learning to impact the descendants of former slaves.

“The Second Morrill Act has had a profound impact on the economic and social landscape of our state of Mississippi and the nation as a whole by expanding access to higher education beyond the privileged few,” said Dr. Wesley Whittaker, interim assistant dean, School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences at Alcorn, and co-chair of Alcorn’s 125th Anniversary Committee. “At Alcorn, we are proud to be the oldest member of the current group of 19 historically black land-grant institutions that are celebrating 125 years of providing educational access and socioeconomic opportunities.”

Anthony Reed, interim assistant Extension administrator and co-chair of the Anniversary Committee, added, “The Wellness Walk/Run and Health Fair was designed to educate the community and focus attention on health issues that affect the underserved communities that Alcorn, together with other 1890 land-grant institutions, is assisting through education, research and outreach.”

During the event, participants walked 1.890 miles around campus. They also had an opportunity to participate in health screenings and gain valuable information to improve their health status.

A competitive portion of the event featured a race with first, second, and third place winners, as well as various activities for the athletically inclined. Proceeds from this event will go to establish a Justin Morrill Scholarship Fund that will benefit deserving Alcorn students who major in food, agricultural and environmental sciences.

Vendors at the Health Fair included Alcorn School of Nursing, Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition, Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center, Deaconess Home Care, Mississippi Home Care, Alcorn Extension Program, and Alcorn Department of Human Sciences.

Cori Pittman, a junior agribusiness major, who won first place in the competitive race among undergraduate students, shared, “I am elated to have won the race and I think it is a great idea to bring awareness to 1890s history and their impact by holding events like this.”

Freshman, psychology major Kristina Brown, said, “I wanted to give back and contribute to the great cause. I enjoyed the walk and all the activities and learned a lot.”

“I came to Alcorn from India and I did not know what 1890s and land-grant institutions were,” said Pavan Kumar Gorthi, a graduate student in the Computer Sciences program. “I was among the group representing Suicide Prevention Awareness and Reach through Kognito/Knowledge (SPARK) program at the health fair. During this event, we both shared valuable information about our project and gained knowledge about the important cause of the celebration.”

For more information on the future 125th Anniversary Commemorative events, visit