The LeMoyne-Owen College Class of 1968 exceeded its fund-raising goal as it moved to show its ongoing support for the only HBCU (historically black college and university) based in Memphis. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)
Acclaimed journalist and author Jesse J. Holland delivered the commencement address at LeMoyne Owen College on Saturday, May 12. Holland, a native of nearby Holly Springs, Miss., is a veteran reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., having covered Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. Holland has also authored multiple books including two on the African American history of Washington, DC, and “Finn’s Story,” a backstory for the popular character in the latest Star Wars films. Now Holland is riding the “Black Panther” wave of success as author of the official novel of Marvel’s “Black Panther.” (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

by Paula Anderson

The 2018 commencement for LeMoyne-Owen College added spice to the tradition of remembering, taking stock of the present and looking forward.

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood was the setting last Saturday morning as graduating seniors, board members, faculty, family and friends gathered for the 148th commencent.

In the spotlight of its 50-year reunion, the Class of 1968 was centerstage during the ceremony. And while noteworthy as the year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis, 1968 also marked the merger of LeMoyne College with Owen Junior College.

“This is a special year for the LeMoyne College Class of 1968. It is the Golden Anniversary of their graduation and they are the last class to graduate under the LeMoyne College banner,” said Dr. Andrea Miller, LOC president and a graduate.

Janice Hill-Williams, class chair of 1968, said, “While at LeMoyne College, we were taught by dedicated men and women who were committed to showing the way; providing scholastic programs and teaching personal graces by implanting in students’ minds the necessity to strive to reach their highest potential and become contributing citizens.”

The Class of ’68 started meeting back in August to prepare for the milestone in the College’s history.

Nora Sanders, who earned a degree in social work, accepts her diploma from LOC President Dr. Andrea Miller. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

“The Class of 1968 exceeded its goal to raise $50,000 for LeMoyne-Owen College to commemorate its 50th College Graduation Anniversary,” said Anita Curry-Jackson, co-chair.

A check for $54,428 was presented to Dr. Miller and donations are still coming in, Curry Jackson said.

“Their tremendous donation is a reflection of their appreciation for the support and education they received at LeMoyne. It is greatly appreciated,” Miller said. “LeMoyne-Owen College has been around for 156 years. The support of our alumni has played and will continue to play a major role in our longevity.”

Mickell Lowery, a LOC board trustee member said, “I believe all alums were both proud and inspired by the gift that was given by the class of 1968. All future commencement anniversary classes should strive to follow in their footsteps going forward.”

Jeffrey Higgs, National Alumni Association president, said, “LeMoyne-Owen College National Alumni Association is proud of the donation the Class of 1968 has made to the college. These alumni efforts assist with student retention and scholarships for students. We urge other alumni classes to engage and reconnect with the college.”

The commencement speaker was Jesse J. Holland, journalist and author of the Marvel Books-commissioned novel that features the black superhero Black Panther. After the conferring of the degrees, Miller awarded Holland with an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters.

Cynthia Riley, journalism and mass communication major, said, “As a graduating senior on Saturday, I arrived with fear and excitement that I had completed another milestone in life. Preparing for the processional, I had thousands of thoughts running through my head about what I would do next with my future.”

The commencement ceremony also celebrated the anniversary classes of 1958 and 1993.

Alumni Reunion Weekend wrapped with a worship service on Sunday at Second Congregational Church.

(To learn more about The LeMoyne-Owen College, visit loc.edu or contact Frankie Jeffries in Alumni Relations at 901-435-1530.)