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Dortch Challenges Students to ‘Do More’ and ‘Be More’ (309 hits)

ASU’s 118th Founders’ Week Celebration culminated with an inspirational message by Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., during the annual Founders’ Day Convocation.

Alabama State University welcomed Thomas W. Dortch Jr., author, entrepreneur, community activist and chairman of the 100 Black Men of America, as its keynote speaker for its 118th Founders’ Day Convocation on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

The convocation honored the school’s founders, the Marion Nine; William Burns Paterson, ASU’s longest serving president; and others who have helped the historic institution progress since its 1867 inception.

Dortch challenged the audience of faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni to “Do more, be more and be the best that you can be at this great university.”

“Students you are going to be an alumni one day,” he said. “Be proud of Alabama State University. Be proud of this tradition. Be proud of the fact that you can come here and be who you are. You can come here and be free to express yourselves. Be proud that you will be prepared to go out into the world and do great things; more than you ever imagined.”

ASU President Quinton T. Ross Jr. first met Dortch in Washington, D.C. at the White House Summit on HBCU’s and after hearing him speak he knew he had to bring him to ASU.

“Thomas Dortch is a champion for educational equality, particularly for African Americans, and a national spokesperson for the nation’s HBCU’s,” Ross said.

Dortch spoke about the importance of HBCU’s. He said that when he left his segregated hometown and went to college at an HBCU, he left there proud and confident that he could compete with anybody.

“We can make a difference. We must make a difference,” Dortch said. “We must never forget the great contributions of HBCU’s. If we ever lose them we will never get them back. Never forsake this great institution. Send your checks, send your children and more importantly, speak up and speak out about Alabama State University.”

After Dortch’s stirring address, ASU presented two awards - The Spirit of Marion and The Spirit of Tullibody Awards. These awards paid tribute to two highly distinguished alumni – a pioneering jazz musician; and a longtime educator/community activist.

Spirit of Marion Award

Thomas “Tommy” Stewart graduated from Alabama State University in 1961, earning a B.S. degree in music. While at ASU, he directed the world-famous Bama State Collegians, a student Jazz ensemble that in the 1920s helped to save ASU from closing by performing around the country and raising money for the University.

Following graduation, the Gaston native taught high school in St. Clair county Alabama then moved to Atlanta where he taught music at Morris Brown College, Morehouse College and Georgia State University. Stewart then served as a faculty member at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

Along with teaching, Stewart has a long and successful musical career having played and arranged music with performers such as Gladys Knight & the Pips, Johnnie Taylor, the Stylistics and Luther Ingram.

He credits his success to his experiences at Alabama State University and the Bama State Collegians.

The Spirit of Tullibody

As an alumna and longtime faculty member at ASU, Dr. Alma Freeman has supported her alma mater in countless ways, from her leadership positions with the College of Education and University College, to her standing up for ASU as one of the plaintiffs in the landmark Knight v. State of Alabama llawsuit.

Freeman is a 1963 graduate from Lafayette, Ala. She has proudly served her alma mater for 50 years. She served as one of the plaintiffs in the landmark Knight v. State of Alabama lawsuit, a case that desegregated higher education in Alabama and paved the way for the evolution of this mighty institution.

Freeman returned to her alma mater as an instructor in English, eventually becoming the dean of the College of Education. She “retired” in 1997 but she returned regularly to teach classes and worked on the accreditation for the college of Education and the University’s overall accreditation.

Freeman says she loves ASU and its students and that Alabama State University is in her blood.

Freeman also is a member of several community, civic and professional organizations.

Other highlights of the convocation included performances by the ASU Theatre’s BFA in Dance program, the University Choir and the Wind Ensemble. Also, students from the Zelia Stephens Early Childhood Center brought the audience to their feet with their recitation of the traditional poem, “What I Live For.”

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Author: Timothy C. Ervin

Posted By: Elynor Moss
Tuesday, February 13th 2018 at 9:19AM
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