By ERINA LOVE
Grambling State University Media Bureau
Grambling, LA - Grambling State University students and legends were showcased during the second annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Awards Luncheon on campus, and there was one special visitor.
University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley attended the event as a part of a full-day visit on campus. She was one of more than a dozen people who read King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech and President Frank G. Pogue surprised her with the help of Larry Pannell and Doug Williams, director of the World Famed Tiger Marching Band and the head football coach who was the NFL Super Bowl MVP 25 years ago. Woodley donned a marching band letterman jacket with her name as an honorary band director and she got an autographed football from Williams.
Woodley is visiting three northern Louisiana universities that are a part of the UL system. She was at the University of Louisiana at Monroe Monday and she wraps up her three-day visit to the area at Louisiana Tech Wednesday. She’s visiting each of the nine ULS schools to talk with the university administrations, faculties, staffs and students as a part of a listening tour.
Woodley was joined by ULS Board Chair Wayne Parker and Bob Shreve as well as other dignitaries. But the focus was on King and some of the university’s greats.
The luncheon recognizes awardees who, through their service to Grambling State University, the state, region and country, exemplify the character, leadership and selfishness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We introduced this luncheon as one of the many ways at Grambling to bring the community together,” said Pogue. “I would like to that the entire community, by supporting the event, they are supporting Grambling — and that is the key to continue to work together and support the institution.”
Senior Quinterio Lane led the crowd of about 250 with the singing of ’”Lift Every Voice and Sing” and Brandon McKnight, a junior theater major from Bossier, started the reading of King’s speech. There were faculty, staff and community members, too, but the students seemed to bring the audience to its feet, especially as Student Government Association President Jonathan Allen gave an emotional and passionate conclusion.
A group of four students from Alma J. Brown Elementary School recited several King quotes, adding a youthful perspective at the lunch. “I had a great time at the lunch. I really liked the set-up and I hope the audience liked my speech,” said Haley Albrinton, 9, a fourth grader.
Assisted by Janis Bluford, who chaired the committee that organized the event, Pogue presented each award to the awardee or a representative. The Charles Drew Science and Technology Award was presented to Drs. Richard and Edith Rayford, who were not able to attend. Richard Rayford is a accomplished clinician in cardiology, healthcare researcher, author and educator he is also an alumnus of GSU and a member of the Grambling University Foundation Board. Edith Rayford is an obstetrician/gynecologist.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Community Service and Leadership Award was presented to Grambling Mayor Ed Jones and Valena Lane. Lane is a GSU alumna, a former Lincoln Parish music teacher and has worked as Grambling Housing Authority director.
“This will probably be the most memorable event that I experience. I am highly honored to receive this award, especially in the name of Hamer, who was a leader in the civil movement and her suburb leadership will never be forgotten,” said Jones, a city native and a Grambling State alum.
The Kara Vaughn Jackson Education Award was presented to Lamore Carter, vice president of academic affairs emeritus who served GSU in various roles for more than 40 years. “I am delighted and honored to receive this award,” he said. “I am 87-years-old and this is a once in a life time award.”
The Madame C.J. Walker Business Award recognized Calvin Wilkerson, founder and owner of Grambling’s Collegiate Shoppe, believed to be the oldest African American business in the state still operating. Shared posthumously, it was accepted by his daughter, Delores Smith and a son who still operate the store.
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