Contact: Amy Cagle
STARKVILLE, Miss.— The Mississippi State University National Alumni Association is announcing the second formally organized Black Alumni Weekend for the institution. Sponsored by the alumni association’s Black Alumni Advisory Council, the weekend is scheduled for Feb. 16-18. Organizers anticipate nearly 700 participants.
“Mississippi State alumni and friends of any ethnic background will have an opportunity to salute the heritage of inclusion and diversity at our university by attending this collection of events,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Our university has been a trailblazer in the state for diversity and inclusion, and 2018 marks 53 years since the admission of the first African-American student, Dr. Richard E. Holmes.”
Dr. Holmes’s tenure at the university marked a pivotal time in history that has provided the opportunity for African-American students not only to be admitted to the university, but also thrive at MSU,” he said.
Chaired by MSU alumna Connie Spells Raines, a 1985 chemical engineering graduate of Conyers, Georgia, the Black Alumni Weekend (BAW18) planning committee is comprised of African-American alumni representing three generations of MSU students. The group seeks to increase alumni involvement in conjunction with the MSU Alumni Association.
The weekend’s theme of “Pioneers, History Makers, and Future Leaders” encompasses all generations of African-American alumni in an effort to connect these generations to honor the legacy of pioneers, continue the work of history makers, and pave the way for future leaders.
The three-day stint of educational and social events convenes Thursday, Feb. 15, with an early bird kickoff, hosted by MSU and NFL greats Donald Lee and Johnie Cooks. Friday, Feb. 16, will provide informational activities to reacquaint alumni with the campus and university. Friday’s activities include alumni guest lectures, informational sessions, an athletic luncheon with several MSU coaches, a Greek stroll, and a gala honoring alumni who are trailblazers in their respective fields. Holmes Cultural Diversity Center also will host an open house on Friday with a plaque dedication to honor the late Steven Cooper, the university’s first African-American student-body president.
On Saturday, Feb. 17, events and activities will focus on the “State of Black Affairs” and moving diversity and inclusion forward. Also highlighting Saturday are concurrent sessions on building generational wealth and institutional legacies and entertainment by Mississippi natives comedienne Rita Brent and musical artist Big K.R.I.T. Rounding out the weekend, a gospel brunch on Sunday, Feb. 19, features entertainment by nationally known gospel singer-songwriter Micah Stampley and former Miss MSU and Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray.
“We are excited to build upon the first BAW in 2016. This event is not only a weekend of connecting and reconnecting, but also a way to better support the university in its diversity and inclusion efforts as well as build a strong base of support for future black alumni at Mississippi State,” said Raines.
Various sponsors are supporting Black Alumni Weekend activities including Raytheon, among others both within and outside the university.
A schedule for Black Alumni Weekend events is available at http://alumni.msstate.edu/blackalumniweekend. A portion of the paid registration supports the Black Alumni Advisory Council Scholarship that provides financial support for entering freshman African-American students pursuing undergraduate degrees as full-time students at Mississippi State University who meet certain criteria, with preference given to first-generation students.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.