ATLANTA — The powerful testimonies about the levels of achievement that came from HBCU graduates during the 30th annual National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony were nothing less than astounding and spellbinding.
The endless examples of unprecedented and unbelievable success given inside the Hyatt Regency were dizzying as they were awe-inspiring: The former Surgeon General of the United States – the No. 1 doctor in America – never even knew she could be a physician until Regina Benjamin got to the HBCU Xavier in New Orleans. Another, Will Packer, a graduate of Florida A&M University, is now the producer of the highest grossing music-based movie of all time, Straight Outta Compton (as well as the producers on a string of No. 1 blockbusters Think Like a Man, No Good Deed, Ride Along and others). A third, Clara Adams-Ender, propelled herself from a staff nurse to become the Brigadier General in the Army with the help of her North Carolina A&T degree. A fourth, the Honorable Tommie Colbert Sr., became the first-ever black chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court after starting his undergrad studies at Kentucky State. And one man, David Dinkins, became the first black mayor of the world’s most important and powerful city, New York, after beginning his studies at Howard University.
And the list goes on.
And we cannot possibly leave out Mrs. Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder and CEO, The Act-1 Group of Companies, a global business and human resource partner for Fortune 500 companies. Howroyd just became the first black women in United States history to own a billion-dollar company (Oprah earned her billion from several business ventures and partnerships). And Howroyd, too, began her career at a black college, North Carolina A&T University.
“Being included in the NBCA Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor,” said Howroyd. “Education has played a pivotal role in my own life, and I firmly believe that the quickest way to change the world is to make education and opportunity readily available and accessible.”
And when you add that the mayor of the city of Atlanta (Kasim Reed), the president of the Atlanta City Council (Caesar Mitchelle) and the Commissioner of the largest county in Georgia (Dr. John Eaves of Fulton County) are all African American graduates of HBCUs, then you begin to discern the monumental importance of the education provided by the nation’s black college and universities.
The timing of this event was fortuitous because the same week this event took place, Atlanta Daily World did a cover story on Police Chief Gary Sparks, a graduate of Fort Valley State. Even has he rose up the ranks in the Army teaching SWAT Team tactics and graduating from the FBI academy and working for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), Sparks heeded professors’ plea for students to take their skills back home and help the community. Sparks is now the first black police chief in the history of Douglasville, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.
This is the kind of inspiring and enlightening tales that business impresario Thomas W. Dortch envision when he founded the The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation three decades ago. The NBCA is dedicated to the growth and development of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through programs that encourage education advancement and humanitarian involvement.
Take a look at some of the photographic highlights from the gala: