Recap of the Frederick Douglass Convocation


Jabray Franklin

Olafimihan Oshin, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Valentines Day took place but so did the annual Frederick Douglass Convocation at the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center hosted by the Student Government Association’s Senior Class.

This convocation held every year during black history month where the university welcomes an important figure in the black community. Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass, was this year’s guest speaker.

Morris Jr. is the descendant and great-grandsons of not only Frederick Douglass but also Booker T. Washington. He co-founded an Atlanta-based nonprofit titled Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and he is the current director for the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project. He also serves as an Ambassador for the nonprofit organization Human Rights First.

Morris Jr. began with the intention of leaving attendees inspired through the stories of his ancestors.

“Because they [Douglass and Washington] both understood from a young age that education equals freedom, education equals emancipation, education equals liberation and that is a message that is still as relevant today as of all those years ago,” said Morris Jr.

During his Keynote speech, he also emphasized how influential his great grandfathers are.

“Every time I tell people what my relationship is to my ancestor not only it is a mouthful trying to say all of those greats, but it sometimes makes me feel far removed.”

He continued by sharing some family stories about his connection between Douglass and Washington.

“So I’ll sit on my great grandmother Fanny’s lap or the knee of my aunt Porsha and they will tell me first-hand stories. And my great grandmother used to call Frederick Douglass ‘The man with the great big white hair.’”

Morris Jr. also discussed the trials and tribulations his great grandfather’s and many African Americans have to face trying to get gain an education in this country. He shared that his great great great grandfather Douglass used to trade parts of bread to find an education.

Oladipo Adeuyan, graduating senior and biology major, shared his thoughts on the convocation.

“Convocation itself was extremely significant [to] our student body because as our keynote speaker stated we cannot know where we’re going if we do not know where we been,” said Adeuyan. “It’s important for us to track our history, it’s important for us to understand our history, appreciate our history, embrace our history and most of all as it being Valentine’s day love our history.”