Two survivors of a harrowing, hazardous and historic period of the Civil Rights Movement will deliver the keynote address at Central State University at the start of a week in which the 126 year-old historically Black university installs a former Coppin State official as its first Black woman president.

David Myers and Winona Beemer Myers will reflect during Charter Day at Central State on their experiences as Freedom Riders in the South during 1961 when they joined over 400 human rights activists to protest racial discrimination.

Two days later, the campus will be the scene of a historic moment for the school as Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond is sworn in March 7 as the eighth president of Central State University. She was previously provost and vice president for academic affairs at Coppin State University.

The inauguration of the first woman president in Central State’ s 126-year history will include a
formal procession of trustees, distinguished guests and delegations from throughout the nation’s higher education academe in addition to students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The Myers were teenagers when they joined the movement. Both were arrested and served lengthy jail sentences for protesting discrimination. David Myers spent 22 days in the Jackson, Miss. city jail and Mississippi’s Parchman State Penitentiary. As a 19 year-old, Winona Myers served what some civil rights historians believe was the longest sentence at the Parchman prison—nearly six months.

Following their remarks four distinguished Central State graduates will be inducted in the Alumni Achievement Hall of Fame. They are Darryl T. Owens, class of 1959, Kentucky State Representative; Kenneth S. Hudson, class of 1961, former National Basketball Association referee and corporate executive at Coca Cola; Mildred C. Joyner, class of 1971, current president of the Council on Social Work Education and Shirley L. Mays, class of 1976, dean of the Phoenix School of Law.

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