MSU to host second Black Alumni Reunion

By: 
CHARLIE BENTON
Staff Writer

For the second time, Mississippi State University will hold an event for its African-American alumni.

The second MSU Black Alumni Weekend will take place Thursday through Sunday, attracting approximately 700 alumni to campus.

The event will follow a theme of “Pioneers, History Makers and Future Leaders,” and will include an early bird kickoff with former MSU and NFL players Donald Lee and Johnnie Cooks, informational sessions, an athletic luncheon with several MSU coaches, a Greek stroll and a gala. The Holmes Cultural Diversity Center will also host an open house and dedicate a plaque to Steven Cooper, the first African-American MSU Student Association president. The event will also mark 53 years since Dr. Richard E. Holmes enrolled as the first African-American student at MSU. The event will conclude with a gospel brunch on Sunday.

“It is a collaborative event between an executive planning committee of 18 alums and our office, the alumni association to help them execute the reunion, ” said MSU Alumni Association Executive Director Jeff Davis.

The planning committee was chaired by 1985 chemical engineering alumna Connie Spells Raines and included three generations of alumni.

This event is not only a weekend of connecting and reconnecting, but also a way to better support the university in its diversity and inclusion efforts as well as build a strong base of support for future black alumni at Mississippi State,” Raines said.

The first Black Alumni Weekend was held in 2016, and will be held on a biennial basis.

“It’s geared as an engagement opportunity for African-American alums to come back to campus,” Davis said. “It includes scholarship support, as well as an opportunity for them to get back on campus and re-engage with the university, as well as engage with other alumni friends.”

Davis said the first weekend had been a success, and had earned the university an award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

“We want to meet alumni where they are,” Davis said. “We’ve got about 101 alumni groups, and we’ve done reunions from 50-year class reunions to Greek alumni reunions to a ‘Bowtie Brigade’ reunion for a group of gentlemen that cleaned the cafeteria back in the 1960s.”

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