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Class of 1967 Celebrates ‘Golden Anniversary’

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Author: Timothy C. Ervin

Release Date: May 12, 2017

Members of the class of 1967 returned to their alma mater 50 years later to celebrate their Golden Anniversary.

The year 1967 was a pivotal time in American history.  The United States had 475,000 troops in Vietnam fighting a war; Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army; Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African American Supreme Court Justice; and minimum wage was just $1.40 an hour.

In Montgomery, Ala., V. Carolyn Holmes and other members of Alabama State University’s class of 1967 were making their own history and leaving an imprint for generations to come.

“Our class was ASU’s 100th year anniversary class,” said Holmes, chair of the Golden Class Programs and Events. “We were the first class to receive diplomas that were accredited by SACS, and our class has people who were here during the Selma to Montgomery March. These are some of the students that moved the civil rights movement.”

This year, graduates from ASU’s class of 1967 were invited to return to their alma mater for their Golden Reunion. ASU hosts this special three-day event each year, allowing classmates from the University’s 50-year reunion class and their guests to reconnect with each other and with ASU. The Golden Reunion members are honored during the University’s Spring Commencement, where they receive their Golden Diplomas.

Many members of the class of 1967 boasted successful careers in medicine, government, politics and education. Joseph Bell, who had a long career in athletics, serves as the chair of the Golden Anniversary Steering Committee. He said it is important for his class to stay involved with ASU. He believes this reunion will help maintain that connection.

“It is very important for us to come back, reminisce and see how we can continue to participate and support Alabama State,” Bell said. “I am trying to make sure we are more active in the Alumni Association so we can continue to support the University whenever we can.”

Many of the members of the Golden Class toured the campus and were elated to see the changes ASU has made in the 50 years since they graduated.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said David L. Thomas. “Fifty years has elapsed, and almighty God has graced us to see this celebration fifty years after our commencement exercises, on this sesquicentennial anniversary of our beloved Alabama State University.”

Dr. Johnny Griffin said that time has changed all the members of the class, but they still remain a family.

“Mother Nature and Father Time have changed us,” Griffin said. “We didn’t personally know everyone that was here in our class but the ones we do know have changed. But we always had a kinship. We will always be the class of 1967 graduating class at Alabama State. We are family. We are at home.”

Golden Reunion classes in years past have made generous donations to the University, and the class of 1967 was no exception. The group raised more than $30,000 for the ASU Trust for Educational Excellence.

Zillah M. Fluker (’96), vice-president for Institutional Advancement, addressed the class and said that they are vital to the institution’s legacy.

“We are so fortunate to have the Class of 1967 because they paved the way for many of us,” Fluker said. “The investment that you all have made already as a class is significant. One thing I celebrate about the class of 1967 is that you are our constant donors. The investment that you’re making is only going to help increase the most important thing that is happening here and that is producing individuals who will live up to the vision and the passion and drive of the Marion Nine; and who also will go out there and change the world and have an impact so they can make a better place for all of us.”

Dual Celebration

Gwendolyn and Clarence Sutton, both members of ASU’s Class of 1967 are celebrating two milestones at ASU this weekend – the Golden Class Reunion and their grandson’s, Clarence Sutton III, graduating magna cum laude with his bachelor’s degree from ASU.

“This weekend is indescribable,” Sutton Sr. said. “We are extremely excited and we have been looking forward to it for a long time because when he (grandson) decided he was going to come to Alabama State, that’s when we saw this picture of this four-year journey. And it’s been a great journey. This is a wonderful legacy for us.”

Gwendolyn Sutton said that her grandson’s graduation is the best Mother’s Day gift that she could ever imagine. She said attending ASU gave him some opportunities that he would not have received had he gone to a larger university.

“He got internships in Washington D.C.,” said the proud grandmother. “He went three years in a row; and in the last year, he worked with the National Democratic Caucus. I do not believe that if he would have gone anywhere else, he would have had the same opportunities.”

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