TUSKEGEE, Ala − After a week full of excitement, fellowship, music, and football, Homecoming 2016 wrapped up with the annual Homecoming/Charter Day Convocation on Oct. 3, in the University Chapel. Tuskegee alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends packed the sanctuary to pay homage to “Mother Tuskegee.”
The keynote speaker for the occasion was Tuskegee alumnus Tom Joyner, radio host of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show and founder of BlackAmericaWeb.com, REACH Media Inc., and the Tom Joyner Foundation, which has raised over $65 million dollars in support of students at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).
Induction. Joyner stressed the importance of having the will to succeed. “We were raised and nurtured to be successful at anything we put our minds to. If you are expected to succeed, chances are, you will succeed. And here I am, standing before you as one of the many successful sons and daughters of Mother Tuskegee.” Joyner said in his speech.
“If you can dream it, you can achieve it,” was something he and his brother always believed. He spoke about their participation in protests for school desegregation and economic equality, which led to his first job as a DJ. He went on to recount the paths they took, the big dreams they had, and that “Mother Tuskegee” was responsible for instilling in them the mindset to follow those dreams and succeed. Joyner added that HBCUs care more about the future of African American students than mainstream institutions.
Joyner revealed that his parents met at Moton Field, home of the Tuskegee Airmen Program. He stated that those who joined the Airmen Program had to have the will to succeed, which was taught to them by the HBCUs that they came from. He also stated that his parents, and both sets of grandparents all graduated from HBCUs, but they only had a few choices. It was because of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that he, and those of his generation, had many choices. He cautioned that there were some real issues out there that have to be dealt with. So, he encouraged his hometown to get out and vote so that their voice can be heard.
At the end of Convocation, alumni classes presented a check to the University in the amount of $54,105, and donations were still coming in. Also, Class of 1973 alumnus Paul Jones was presented with the Alumni Merit Award for being a long-time and consistent supporter of Tuskegee University.
Thousands of alumni and friends returned to campus for the festivities and packed the stadium to watch the always exciting football game and half-time show. The alumni reunion classes of 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, & 2011 were over-joyed at seeing their fellow classmates who returned for Homecoming. It was a joyous time for all.
On Friday, Tuskegee University President, Dr. Brian Johnson welcomed alumni back to campus and gave the State of the University address in the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center auditorium. Johnson spoke to alumni about increasing alumni giving. He pointed out the updated Vision Document, the newly approved Strategic Plan, the Fundraising Brochure and Student Engagement Initiatives, which includes the revamped Lyceum Series featuring notable speakers such as Mae Jemison, Kevin Powell, Roland Martin, Dr. Synthia Saint James and others. He also mentioned the Fall Convening of Partners which took place this past September in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Legacy of Military Leadership
In continuing with Tuskegee’s storied tradition of its military legacy, an inaugural ROTC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held on Friday evening. Several Army and Air Force members were inducted during the ceremony. In their honor a temporary scroll of all inductees was unveiled in the General “Chappie” James Museum. A more formal presentation of the honorees will be installed at a later date.
The week’s festivities began with Chapel service on Sunday morning, followed that evening by an inspiring Gospel Program in which the magnificent voices of the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir resonated throughout the Chapel. The Student Government Association (SGA) along with the Office of Student Life and Development kept events going throughout the week with a festival and music on the yard, pop-up salons, fashion shows and other student events.
The long-awaited Homecoming Parade is a grand event that always draws participation from the entire community and surrounding areas. The Grand Marshal for this year’s Parade was Tuskegee alumnus and NFL football professional Frank Walker. The winners of the 2016 TU Homecoming Parade Floats entries were as follows:
Manufactured Float winners:
1st Place – Miss Tuskegee University and the Royal Court
2nd Place – TU Student Government Association
Non-manufactured Float winners:
1st Place – Tuskegee Public School
2nd Place – By His Grace Daycare and Learning Center
The SGA turned Homecoming “All the Way Up” with student events such as a Comedy Show featuring Bruh Man, a Royal Court Coronation and Ball, a Concert featuring 2-Chainz and capped it off with a rousing Greek Step Show by the National Pan Hellenic Council.
On Friday night, alumni and friends were treated to a Comedy Show featuring the hilarious Rickey Smiley, who always satisfies the hunger for laughter with his side-splitting humor.
It was a memorable time for all who were here to experience it. To view more pictures of Homecoming 2016, click here.