Inaugural ASU Freshman Pilgrimage to Original Marion Campus One Day After the 152nd Anniversary of its Founding!

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Lincoln Normal School (now Alabama State University) in 1875 (courtesy of Sanford University). 

Over 100 Alabama State University freshmen will spend a day in Marion, Ala., on July 19 just one day after its 152nd anniversary of when the University was founded by  nine former slaves (known as the Marion Nine) who came together on July 18, 1867 in Marion and created the Lincoln Normal School. Today that school has evolved in to the world-class institution of higher education known as Alabama State University.

The ASU freshmen will journey in a pilgrimage of sorts to Marion to see ASU’s original "mother campus" and participate in a ceremony marking the genesis of ASU.


It is all part of an inaugural program inspired by ASU's President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. and created by Dr. Rolundus Rice, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, which is called the "Montgomery to Marion Freshman Pilgrimage." Rice, who will lead the pilgrimage, said that when the ASU’s "2019 President’s Bus Tour" made a stop at Marion High School, ASU officials (Ross, Rice and others) recognized the need for current and future students and alumni to understand the noble history of the University’s founding in Marion.

ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. (photo by David Campbell/ASU).

A very poignant ceremony will take place  that will be presided over by ASU President Ross. It will occur near the Phillips Auditorium as the 100-plus ASU freshman will gather vials of soil from ASU's original campus and transport it back to Montgomery as a keepsake and reminder of where the school originated. The once vibrant Marion campus is now closed as a working school, but it is again center-stage to the first-ever ASU Freshman Pilgrimage that occurs Friday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Rice remarked that the pilgrimage is to honor the spirit of the nine freed slaves who incorporated Lincoln Normal School (now Alabama State University) with just $500 and 113 students. 

"Freshmen will visit the historic Phillips Memorial Auditorium that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and that is one of the few original buildings remaining on the campus site. They also will go to the nearby Lincoln Museum, which displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the school," Rice said. 

“This trip to Marion is designed to ensure that every student who graduates from this institution knows relevant information about the nine founders’ rich contributions to the University, to the state of Alabama, and ultimately, to the world,” Rice added.


The Lincoln Normal School was founded to provide a quality education for African-American students. Today, 152 years later, ASU’s mission continues to be student-centered and has expanded to include world-class programs in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs that includes several degree-granting colleges and  a myriad of majors, which includes doctoral programs, cutting-edge scientific research and much more.

“As we move ASU 150 years forward, we are always reminded of our origins and are thankful for the courageous visionaries known as the Marion Nine,” said ASU's President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr.  “We are proud of the rich heritage of this great institution, and we want all of our students to share in that pride," he added.

Notable alumni of the Lincoln Normal School include Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and wife of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Jean Childs, wife of civil rights activist Ambassador Andrew Young; and Odith Thelma Patton, mother of Bishop T.D. Jakes.

ASU's Dr. Rolundus R.  Rice

“The historian R.G. Collingwood wrote, ‘The clue to what man can do is what man has already done.’  Our students need to know who Alabama State University has produced, as well as its graduates, and ASU's collective impact on mankind,” Rice said.    

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.