Southern University Founders' Day 2015
Atty. Preston Castille, president of the Southern University National Alumni Federation struck a chord during his Founders' Day speech on Monday when he said Southern University matters.
Castille, a former SU Student Government Association president, is a partner in the prestigious Baton Rouge-based law firm of Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips. Here are some quotes from his speech at the Convocation held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center, attended by students, faculty, staff, administrators, retirees and alumni.
"For 135 years Southern University has mattered and it will always matter."
Speaking on the creation and early days of Southern University.
"To truly escape the vestiges of slavery, the Southern states needed a Southern University to educate and truly free the sons and daughters of slaves."
"Surely, Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback, whose name appears on our Engineering Building, argued during the 1879 (Louisiana) Constitutional Convention that the Southern states made it illegal to educate a slave for almost three centuries, because those Southern states knew that an uneducated slave was easier to control."
"Southern states knew that an English book was more powerful than shackles."
"And, Southern states knew that a history book could lead to a revolution."
"Our Founders decided the answer to the Southern states' oppression was a Southern University."
His views on Southern and its present...
"No other institution in America has such a sophisticated educational network of campuses to serve people of color. This is my university. This is my alma mater."
"It is critical that we understand the depth of resolve, courage and brilliance of our forefathers and foremothers that gave us this great institution."
"We must also understand that what can be given, can be taken away. We must understand that systems can be dismantled. That schools can be closed. And, that doors can be shut."
"My fellow Jaguars, we must understand that every day that the doors of this powerful institution are open, we are changing lives. We are protecting families; and, we are making dreams come true."
"It (Southern) has blossomed and bloomed into this beautiful mosaic of colors and races and ethnicities. We are more diverse than we ever were. People from all walks of life have come to enjoy the metamorphosis of Southern. It has been beautiful to watch."
Southern now reflects the global Diaspora this world has become.
Reflecting on the occasion of his being an adjunct professor of law at both Southern University and Louisiana State University, while having as a student in his class at Southern the sitting Louisiana governor at the time, Gov. Mike Foster.
"How did a kid who grew up on the Bayous of Port Barre, Louisiana and the projects of Opelousas end up here?"
"How did the son of a single mother, who grew up on welfare and food stamps, find himself teaching at one law school that 50 years ago would never have admitted him as a student?"
To the students, he said
"You have to ask yourself, what role will I play in changing Louisiana, this country and this planet? I hate to tell my friends, but history is not over. It's happening today and you are a part of it. You are making it."
"Southern University matters to so many people. Go and tell your friends that you are a member of the Jaguar Nation."
"Tell them we are producing engineers, nurses, lawyers, doctors, politicians, teachers and multi-millionaires."
"Tell them to come to Southern University and it will change their lives forever."