October 2, 2015

Black Alumni of Guilford College Celebrates Homecoming

“The Tree” once bore witness to our ancestor’s desperation as they made the uncertain journey through the Underground Railroad. Today Guilford’s grounds can attest to a new living history that fosters the coming together of generations old and new in celebration and in love while remaining reverent of the struggles of those who came before. Nowhere was this better displayed than during Guilford’s Homecoming and Family Weekend September 18-20.

Did you feel it?

Words of wisdom echoed through Boren Lounge on Friday in the form of “Quake Talks,” as James Shields ’00 reflected on the weight of being in the presence of “The Tree” ― a 310-year-old poplar on campus ― and how it gave him the strength to perform the lead in Snow Camp Theater’s annual production of Pathway to Freedom. Meanwhile, Jodie Geddes ’14 encouraged current students to follow their ambitions while taking time for self-care: “You’re already the rose; give yourself credit.”

Did you see it?

Awe flooded the Moon Room the following morning as the largest crowd in the history of the Alumni Awards came out to witness Douglas Gilmer become Guilford’s first black Honorary Alumnus after a career in Guilford’s dining services spanning decades. The event drew more black alumni than ever before, including Guilford’s first African American alumnus James McCorkle ’66 and classmate Linda Banks Moore ’66. Minnette Coleman ’73 gave a spirited introduction to a man whose 46 years of service to the college cannot even begin to be condensed in the space of five minutes.

Did you hear it?

Laughter filled the air behind Ragsdale as “Old school vs New School” met for friendly competition during Lakefest. Current students raced against alumni in relays featuring a variety feats, including flap-jack flipping and “dizzy bats.” Shouts of victory rolled forth at the peak of the vigorous obstacle course and the fun culminated in a rousing game of tug-of-war. Alumni and students came together, laughed, and related to one another like the family that we truly are ― all branches from the same tree planted by the perseverance of our elders. This is what a community looks like: young and old coming together, building new traditions, and nurturing relationships that keep us invigorated and strong as a people.

Were you there?

If you weren’t, it is not too late to hear the boisterous laughter of students as you share with them bygone antics of days long past. It is not too late to see the revitalized Multicultural Resource Center, canvassed with words and portraits of our elders. It is not too late to feel power of our history past and present as you walk in solemnity through the Friends Historical Collection. Most importantly, it is not too late to visit “The Tree,” which beckons us to come full circle. Where once our predecessors used it to mark their means of escape, we now look towards it to find our way home, and anchor ourselves to its roots forever. We are Guilford Black Alum. We are Guilford.

Come back for Homecoming 2016!