By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
It was a day of big names, powerful voices and lasting words during the Howard University Charter Day Convocation, as the University commemorated the 152nd anniversary of its founding.
Hundreds gathered at the school’s Cramton Auditorium, 2455 6th St NW, Washington, D.C. on March 1 to pay homage to the schools past and look forward to its future endeavors.
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, the university’s 17th president gave opening remarks of encouragement and focus on the road ahead.
“Howard must continue to build on these five things: enhance academic excellence, inspire new knowledge, serve the community, improve efficiency and effectiveness and achieve financial stability,” Frederick said.
“Coupled with our mission to provide an educational experience of exceptional quality and our commitment to produce distinguished global leaders, we are embarking on a forward trajectory that positions Howard University as a model of excellence in academics and operations.”
The 2019 Alumni Achievement and Capstone Award recipients went to the following: Rosie Allen-Herring in the field of Business and Public Service, Lori George Billingsley in the field of Communications, The Honorable Boyd K. Rutherford in the field of Public Service and LaRue V. Barkwell received the Capstone Distinguished Service Award.
One of the highlights of the event, was the convocation address given by Charles D. King, President and CEO of MARCO, a media company that helps to create, fund or produce content across television, film and digital and platforms. He received an honorary doctorate during the convocation.
King, was integral to some of the most important films of the last several years: from “Roman J. Israel, Esq, starring Denzel Washington to Dee Ree’s Netflix opus “Mudbound.” He is executive producer of “Raising Dion” a sci-fi family drama, along with Michael B. Jordan and Dennis Liu.
After graduation from Howard Law School, King journeyed to Los Angeles where he started off in the mailroom of William Morris only to rise to become partner and senior agent- becoming the first African American partner in the company’s 100 year history and the first ever African American part at any major talent agency.
“I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when Howard didn’t factor into my consciousness in some way, King said during his speech, as he paid tribute to the many alumni before him including his father and uncle who were graduates of the medical school.
He spoke of his entire family saying, “They were unapologetically Black and woke before it became a catchphrase on a t-shirt.”
“I came to Howard with an interest in both civil rights and entertainment,” King said. “My plan was to follow The Honorable Thurgood Marshall.”
Image and representation were important to King even back then as he watched how Johnny Cochran changed the game for how Black attorneys are seen on television during the OJ trial. He also mentioned the powerful images of hip-hop moguls like P Diddy.
“In all of these instances what I recognized was the immense power in what image could do for one’s sense of self,” King said. “I couldn’t articulate exactly how I felt when I saw Blair Underwood stride into an law office on “LA Law” but I knew it awakened a new feeling in me – possibility.
“It filled a void I didn’t know existed, a desire to see a reflection of myself, my best self, my aspirational self.”
The audience was packed with politicians, educators, alumni and even a few celebrities. One celebrity alumni of note was Phylicia Rashad, who King gave a nod to during his speech.
Currently Howard has about 10,000 students who come from across the globe representing 71 countries. For more information go to the school’s website at Howard.edu