GSU, Southern hold joint national conference

For the first time in history, Grambling State University and Southern University held a joint alumni conference. The conference, held in New Orleans, featured activities such as business meetings, a life members breakfast, a boat ride, and banquet.
Thomas N. Todd, a 1963 graduate of Southern and long-time supporter of GSU, was the speaker for the Grambling and Southern 2008 Joint National Alumni Conference life members breakfast.
Todd began by quoting from Carter G. Woodson’s The MisEducation of the Negro, “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.”
“We have come together for the preservation and enhancement of our universities and to protect them from those who would try to destroy the,” said Todd. “We came together in 1977 to preserve the history and heritage of Grambling and Southern. If you want to destroy a people, you destroy their history.” Todd was making reference to the suits that GSU and SU filed against the state.
However, Todd told the audience that it is more important to make sense than to make history and that he would rather make sense accidentally than to make history on purpose.
Then he spoke of what he called a “knockoff” and “bootleg” kind of freedom. “It looks and smells real. We have knockoff educators, presidents, alumni and students. We even have knockoff education. Because you can use a calculator, does not mean you can add. Because you can use spell check, does not mean that you can write,” said Todd.
He said that if we are living in a post-racial era, there is no need for race and that we need to know where we came from, so we can know where we are, and where we are going.
Then he spoke of power. “Power is money, and money is power, and money is America’s God. The fight is about who is going to control the money. When you look at the (presidential) debate, do not look at the civil right, look at the power.”
Another point he made was about change. Todd said that change is the flavor of the month, and some change is not good. He made reference to the way reading is taught, how educators have gone from teaching phonetics to teaching whole words.
“You may change the way you do business, but don’t change the business you do. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “For years Grambling and Southern have been overcharged and short changed, so always count your change.”
Todd played on the theme of the conference which was “Our Permanent Interest: To Recruit, Retain, Educate and Graduate,” to explain why he was an advocate of open admissions. He said, “If you recruit students, you can’t admit them. If you can’t admit them, you can’t retain, educate or graduate them. We need to do what Grambling and Southern have always done, take the students where you find them, and get them where they need to be.”
“Why should Grambling and Southern be judged by some artificial ACT or SAT scores? Judge them by their graduates and the work they do,” said Todd. “Nobody at Southern ever put a ceiling on my ambition.”
Todd ended his speech by advising alumni to support their alma maters. “Alumni are the best trained troops we have. If you do not defend Grambling and Southern, one day you will walk with your children or grandchildren and say, ‘This is where the institution that I attended used to stand.’