Denmark, S.C. – Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, shared a message of reaffirmation, reminding and renewal with the audience of the Voorhees College Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Convocation on Jan. 20 at the Leonard E. Dawson Health and Human Resources Center.
Lonzer reaffirmed that all people are entitled to pursue life fully and are entitled to the right to vote. He said that in accordance with the United States Declaration of Independence, all citizens are entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” He reminded the audience of approximately 150 people that, just like during the Civil Rights Movement, today in America, “we have some difficult days ahead.” Those were King’s words during his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech presented on April 3, 1968 before an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, where the city’s sanitation workers were striking. King was assassinated the next day at a Memphis hotel.
Lonzer spoke to students about renewal of King’s values, “You are the spirit of tomorrow for us. Draw from some of the experiences you will have from small Voorhees College. Fight for the right to vote and be dialed in to news from various media and the political theater.”
He encouraged them to take up the mantle and go beyond the generation before them, reminding them that it was young people like them who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. “Look at who is here with you right now. They are making an impact on you and you with them. You are growing together,” he said.
Voorhees President Ronnie Hopkins made brief remarks and presented Lonzer the Presidential Leadership Citation. Lonzer also received a gift from members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Lonzer is the 36th General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a native of Richmond, Virginia. He was a Charles Waples Scholar in chemistry at Delaware State University, and earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. He holds a doctor of philosophy degree in biochemistry from The University of Akron. He was a fellow of the Patricia Roberts Harris Public Affairs Fellowship Program.
Other program participants included Dr. Herman Mason, Jr., director of library services and assistant professor of library studies and theological studies; Dr. Bennie James, assistant professor of theological studies; Adrian West, interim vice president for enrollment management and dean of students; Rachel Jones, director of the Voorhees College Choir; the Voorhees College Choir; Joshua Gayle, president of the student government association; and Erianna Card, Miss Voorhees College.
A high-resolution image of Lonzer is available at https://voorhees.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Dr-Willis-L-Lonzer-2022-MLK-speaker-1-scaled.jpg
Voorhees College President Ronnie Hopkins presents the Presidential Citation to Willis L. Lonzer, III. https://voorhees.edu/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Dr-Willis-L-Lonzer-2022-MLK-speaker-4-scaled.jpg