Honoring Black Alumni
Special activities planned for Alumni Weekend 2011| From Commonwealth | By Amy Laskowski
Esteemed alum Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), with BU President Harold C. Case (STH’27, Hon.’67). Photo by Boston University Photography
It’s been 60 years since one of BU’s most illustrious alums, Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59), arrived on campus as a student, and this anniversary has inspired a series of events honoring and exploring the black experience at BU. The Celebration of Black Alumni, which is open to all, will take place October 27–30, during Alumni Weekend.
“BU was conceived as a place of inspiration and hope by its founders, and African American alumni were welcomed here when many times they weren’t welcomed elsewhere,” says Quentin Derryberry III, director of alumni networks for development and alumni relations. “African American alumni have had such a strong impact at this institution, and we want to showcase that.”
Notable African American alumni include Andrea Taylor (COM’68), director of North America community affairs for Microsoft Corporation, a former United Nations delegate, and a BU trustee, Solomon Carter Fuller (MED1897), the first black psychiatrist in the United States, and the late Barbara Jordan (LAW’59, Hon.’69), a civil rights leader, the first Southern black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“We are writing the next chapters of our history today,” says Derryberry, “and we really look to our alumni to help form those chapters and continue Dr. King’s legacy.”
Alums attend the reunion of affinity groups during Alumni Weekend 2010 (pictured here and below). The University will explore the black experience at BU during this year’s event. Photos by Patrick Singleton
On Thursday, October 27, Walter Fluker (GRS’88), the Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor of Ethical Leadership at the School of Theology, will speak about King’s role in the civil rights movement. His talk will take place at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, where the University’s extensive King collection will be on display. Later in the evening, the civil rights leader Reverend James Morris Lawson (STH’60) will deliver the 2011 Lowell Lecture, titled The Living Legacy. He will touch on the struggles and unrecognized complexities of the civil rights movement, including his own experiences being imprisoned for refusing to report for the draft.
Other highlights of the Celebration of Black Alumni include a welcome reception, the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture, with this year’s speaker, former New York Times journalist Bob Herbert, an African cooking demonstration, a class featuring Dan Charnas (CAS’89), the author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, and a jazz brunch.
More than 4,500 alumni and friends are expected at Alumni Weekend 2011, with its more than 90 social, educational, athletic, and networking events. The Distinguished Alumni Awards, the University’s highest honor, will be presented. This year’s President’s Panel, hosted by President Robert A. Brown, is titled The Many Faces of Entrepreneurship & Innovation: A Perspective from Boston University. The full list of events and registration information can be found here.
“There are many ways for alumni to become reconnected to the Boston University community during the weekend,” says Meg Umlas, executive director of alumni relations. “There is something for everyone, of any age.”