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NCCU Salutes Founder James E. Shepard and Its Golden Eagles

Founder's Day speaker and Golden Eagle Dorothy F. Bailey

North Carolina Central University celebrated Founder’s Day on Friday, Nov. 2, paying tribute to Dr. James E. Shepard, who opened a school where the university now stands in 1910. And in keeping with tradition, the university welcomed the Class of 1962 back for its 50th reunion and induction into the Society of Golden Eagles.

Dr. Shepard, a pharmacist and religious educator, opened the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race to its first students in July 1910. He presided over the campus until his death in 1947, by which time it was named North Carolina College at Durham and was the nation’s first state-supported liberal arts college for black people.

Delivering the Founder’s Day Convocation address was Class of 1962 member Dorothy F. Bailey, who in the 50 years since she graduated has been a teacher, government worker, writer, actor, community leader and politician. She served two terms as a member of the Prince George’s County Council in Maryland, including two years as the council chair. She is currently vice chair of that county’s planning board and a member of the Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission. She is the author of the recently published book “In a Different Light: Reflection and Beauty of Wise Women of Color.”

“Dr. Shepard had a vision,” Bailey said. “That vision of excellence is as necessary today as it was 102 years ago.

“When we arrived on this campus in 1958, we had a legacy to uphold,” she said. “We were told we had to soar, because we were God’s instruments for changing the world. It was here we were told, ‘You have to stand for something. You have to march for something.’ And that we did. We took part in marches and sit-ins that changed the world.

“We come back, our hearts full of gratitude, to say thank you.”

NCCU rolls out the red carpet every fall during Homecoming week for the 50th reunion class. The Golden Eagles induction ceremony is a central element of the Founder’s Day Convocation. The 93 new members this year were also guests of honor at a festive luncheon and other Homecoming events.

After the convocation, the attendees further honored Dr. Shepard with a wreath-laying ceremony at the founder’s statue, which stands at the heart of the campus. Among those attending were five descendants of Dr. Shepard and his wife, Annie Day Shepard: granddaughter Carolyn Smith Green (Class of 1951) and great-grandchildren Carolyn Green Boone, Marjorie Donaldson, Annie Day Donaldson and Isaac Green.

For more information on NCCU Homecoming activities, please visit www.nccuhomecoming.com

Published: Friday, November 02, 2012
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