years ago this May, the Supreme Court declared the notion of separate
but equal schooling unconstitutional in the landmark desegregation
case of Brown v. Board of Education.
Even though I wasnt born until four months after
this court decision, it changed my life and yours,
said Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, as
she addressed Oxford Colleges Associate of Arts recipients
at their 2004 commencement on May 8. Many of you would
not be sitting here today, or at least not together, without
the Supreme Courts decision.
Tatum, the ninth president of the private, historically black
womens college, is an authority on racial identity development
and the author of the book, Why are All the Black Kids Sitting
Together in the Cafeteria?
The events of the 1950s and 60s may seem like ancient
history to todays graduates, said Tatum, the mother of
two sons who are graduating from high school and college this
year. But tremendous changes have occurred in her lifetime,
due not only to superheros like Martin Luther King Jr.,
but to extraordinary, ordinary young people, such as Georgia
college students who organized to support the civil rights movement.
Just as the students of fifty and forty years ago made
history, I hope as you move through the Oxford gates, you will
make your own history, Tatum concluded, addressing this
years 242 Oxford graduates. You have the capacity
to shape the future.
Dean for Campus Life Joseph C. Moon presented the Eady Sophomore
Service Award to Michael H. Woodworth, a fourth-generation Oxford
graduate and research scholar in biology, who studied shamanism
in Ecuador, started the Oxford Frisbee Club, was a member of
the Dance Company, Leadership Oxford, Mandolin and Guitar Society,
and president of the Student Government Association. One
wonders if you ever sleep, deadpanned Moon, praising Woodworths
calm, considerate and collaborative style of leadership.
The Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching, established
by alumnus Emory Williams 32C, was presented by Dean of
Academic Affairs Kent Linville to Associate Professor of Chemistry
M. Reza Saadein, whose patience, dedication, intelligence,
and creativity have made his difficult science courses
some of the most popular offered at Oxford.M.J.L.
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