On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, students, faculty, and staff members of Grambling State University gathered in T.H. Auditorium to attend the Founder’s Day Convocation and to celebrate the 117th anniversary of the institution.
The Grambling State University Founder’s Celebration was initiated in 1979. It is an entire week that commemorates the legacy of GSU’s founder, Charles P. Adams, the achievements and contributions of its leaders, and the recognition of the accomplishments of its faculty and students.
“It is fitting that we pause during Founder’s Week to reflect and celebrate the hard work, sacrifice and determination of Mr. Charles P. Adams in building a firm foundation for the school that has become nationally and internationally known as Grambling State University,” President Rick Gallot Jr. said.
After being founded by Adams, the institution was first known as The Colored Industrial and Agricultural School. Grambling later received its name under the institution’s second President, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones. Jones was succeeded by Dr. Joseph Benjamin Johnson.
Due to his work during the enhancing years, Johnson was honored at this year’s Founder’s Day. The theme was “Grambling State University 2018: Embracing Tradition – A Salute to Dr. Joseph B. Johnson.”
The convocation began as the presiding officer President Rick Gallot, Jr. lead a lineage of faculty members from Long-Jones Hall to the T.H. Auditorium while the university’s marching band played “March of the Heralds.” Once everyone was seated, GSU’s Tiger Battalion Army ROTC posted the colors and it was followed with the Star-Spangled Banner and the Black National Anthem. The invocation was given by Pastor Gordon Ford of St. David Baptist Church in Ruston, Louisiana and Grambling State’s SGA President, Adarian Williams, gave a welcoming greeting shortly after.
Following Mr. William’s greeting, the university choir set the tone with their musical selection “All Good Things Will Be Added Unto You.” 2018-2019 Miss Grambling State University, JaMariea Davis-Miller, approached the podium to give her occasion and President Gallot began on the introductory of the lecturer.
Attorney Thomas N. Todd, also known as “TNT,” is a widely known activist that served as a lawyer in the United States Army from 1964 to 1967. In that same year, he joined the staff of the United States Attorney’s Office in Chicago. In 1968, Todd made history when he developed the first criminal case against a Chicago policeman for deprivation of an individual’s civil rights. He also organized and established the first Civil Rights Office in a local United States Attorney’s Office in the United States in 1969.
Todd litigated The United States v. Gorman, the first federal criminal case against a Chicago police officer ended in a hung jury in 1971. Todd became the first full time black law professor at Northwestern University where he taught from 1970 to 1974.
Todd shared his many ideas of what he would contribute to the campus of Grambling State if he had the power, including creating a center in the name of the late Dr. Joseph B. Johnson. He also acknowledged the work that President Rick Gallot Jr. has done thus far.
“We are standing here today because President Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, and his competent staff fought for Grambling, to preserve Grambling, just as President Gallot is doing now,” Todd said.
Todd’s speech was filled with praise for the people supporting Grambling State University.
“And as I say to you over and over again, students, we must fight, Mr. President, we must fight. If you fight, you may lose. But if you don’t fight, you will lose,” Todd said.
Students attending the convocation were moved by the guest speaker’s lecture and historical background.
Ariel Norwood, a sophomore majoring in Chemistry, was inspired by the entire convocation ceremony and Todd’s speech
“I was truly touched by his message. Even though he didn’t attend Grambling, he still encouraged our culture,” Norwood said..
Freshmen biology major La’Chadrea Jackson said she enjoyed Todd’s speech. .
“I was really intrigued with the speaker’s address to the student body.” “He was really entertaining and down to earth.”
Following the speech, President Gallot presented Todd with a plaque of appreciation. The auditorium shared a moment of silence as Lincoln Preparatory Elementary students participated in the ceremonial placing of the flowers, followed by a benediction and the alma mater led by the university choir.