MLK Distinguished Lecturer Inspires Audience with Civil Rights History Lesson
By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant
A nationally renowned civil rights expert was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Realizing the Dream Distinguished Lecture at the Embassy Suites hotel in Tuscaloosa on March 19. The title of his speech was “Honoring the Voting Rights Legacy of the United States Colored Troops.”
This series, now in its 19th year, featured Asa Gordon, retired NASA astrodynamicist and receiver of the 2016 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award in recognition of his promotion of the voting rights legacy post-Civil War, a legacy kept alive by the Sons and Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, of which Gordon is secretary-general.
Gordon gave the audience an inspiring demonstration of specific historical events of African- American Civil War activism. “The reason we have the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments is by virtue of their [black Civil War soldiers’] activism,” said Gordon.
Gordon’s presentation was based on his extensive and detailed knowledge of the history of African-American service during the Civil War, leading to the development of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Gordon, who said he began developing his presentation 10 years ago, has inspired countless audiences ever since and this night was no exception.
Gordon said the idea for the lecture came from his research on Civil Rights activism by African-Americans. “I am not just telling the story of how veterans and warriors helped saved the nation … but how they saved the constitution,” he said.
Gordon is founder and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government, a Washington, D.C.-based educational think tank.
Gordon also touched on other areas of his social activism, which spans civil actions in regard to democratizing the Electoral College, constitutional penalty for voter disenfranchisement, 14th Amendment right to vote provisions, and neo-Confederate culture in American politics.
After the lecture, Stillman College Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer hosted a question and answer session.
In welcoming attendees, Dr. Isaac McCoy, dean of Stillman’s School of Business, promised the audience exactly what Gordon delivered: “an informed and inspired” evening. Rose Bryant, president of Stillman’s Student Government Association, underscored the importance of institutional cooperation in bringing the event to Tuscaloosa.
“This event shows,” she said, “the power and impact of having three institutions of higher learning — the University of Alabama, the Stillman College, and Shelton State Community College — working together on behalf of the community.” The other community organization comprising the Realizing the Dream Committee is the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Realizing the Dream program is under the overall direction and supervision of the Division of Community Affairs.
“Once again, the Realizing the Dream Committee has brought us a memorable event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Vice President of Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt. “Our division is privileged to be a part of this important program.”