With the founding of Alabama State University by the Marion Nine in 1867, it continues the legacy of perseverance, progress and promise with its annual Founders’ Day Convocation.
Since the world is still functioning within the parameters of a global pandemic, the 121st ceremony was held virtually on Facebook Live. A large number of current students, faculty and staff were present along with a number of alumni who were all commenting and celebrating this monumental day with “Happy Founders’ Day!”
Each year, the convocation has a keynote speaker who has achieved in his or her career and this year was no different. A 1972 graduate, Woodrow ‘‘Woody’’ McCorvey led the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide to numerous victories as a coach at both schools. In 2020, he was awarded the “Bear Bryant Coach Award” for his contributions and accomplishments to college football over the past 30 years.
McCorvey was honored to be chosen as the keynote speaker.
“I never imagined I would have this opportunity,” McCorvey said. “I am truly blessed to speak to you today. To President Ross, the board of trustees, student body, alumni and friends of Alabama State University. It is indeed an honor to speak to you on Founders’ Day for a university that has served this state and nation for 154 years.” He goes on to thank many other faculty and staff who have made this possible while also reflecting on the book, “From Marion to Montgomery,” to give the history of the university and speak on his experiences.
While students were not able to attend the convocation in-person, freshman theater major Makayla Jones believes that this is the new normal.
“It is very unfortunate that the convocation had to be held virtually, but I definitely learned a lot about the history of this school and I felt proud to be a Hornet,” Jones said. “Hopefully, within my four years here, out of the 3 convocations I have left to attend, at least one of them are in-person, so I can really feel the spirit of ASU and fellowship with my fellow Hornets in-person. But, all-in-all, this convocation was excellent!”
Similar to Jones, senior communications major Rodney Jenkins believes that the convocation is very valuable to students.
“I am so glad to be a part of this celebration every year since my freshman year in 2017. Not only does it celebrate the rich history of Alabama State University, it allows for me to gain a better sense of identity as a Black male who attends a HBCU!” Jenkins said. “I love hearing from the many fantastic keynote speakers, and Coach McCorvey’s story was so encouraging and impactful to me. It gives me a chance to be somebody great one day. Representation really does matter, even if what he did was not in my major, it gives me hope and I am very grateful for that!”
As the convocation progressed, McCorvey encouraged viewers to “maintain the rich history of ASU to ensure future generations of students, regardless of economic, class and race, have a realistic possibility of success and achievement.”
After the conclusion of his speech, the convocation continued with the distinguished spirit awards. Two reputable alumnae were bestowed with the Spirit of Marion Award and the Spirit of Tullibody Award.
The 2021 Spirit of Marion Award was presented to Doris Youngblood, who has worked tirelessly as a student, faculty member and now a retiree of ASU.
“I was lost for words when I received word that I was the recipient, but just jubilant! It was unbelievable but just so gratifying and inspirational! This is where I got my start and this is where I got my stop to go to my next phase of retirement,” Youngblood explained.
The 2021 Spirit of Tullibody Award was presented to Patricia L. Poole who worked 37 years with the federal government as a senior budget analyst. She has given back to her university numerous times, and she implemented a scholarship for current students.
“It is an honor and a blessing to receive the Tullibody Award. I am humble and elated to know that several of my colleagues nominated me for this prestigious award based on my professional and civic contributions to ASU,” Poole said.
The 121st convocation concluded with the university hymn video performed by students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.