Livingstone College

The One Hundred Thirty-Fourth Annual Commencement of Livingstone College

The 134th Commencement Ceremony of Livingstone College hosted one of its largest crowds in decades as the institution bid adieu to the class of 2017 on May 6, at Alumni Memorial Stadium.
The presence of rainy weather led administrators to delay the ceremony from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and as the early morning adjustment was accomplished smoothly, Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., the twelfth President of Livingstone College affirmed, “We have a plan, but God has a plan. This is the day the Lord hath made and we will rejoice and be glad in it. I hereby declare, this is Commencement 2017.” From that moment on, the sun shined beautifully.
As the crowd collectively sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” Bishop Michael A. Frencher Sr., Presiding Prelate of the South Western Delta Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, led the Invocation, asking God to come and bless the assembly beneath thy maples and thy oaks. Presiding Prelate of the Western Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Bishop Staccato Powell followed with a New Testament reading referencing the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the people of Philippi in Philippians 4:4, with a personal touch for the class of 2017.  Before introducing Bishop George E. Battle Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Senior Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, President Jenkins spoke of Battle’s love, compassion and generosity to Livingstone College and its students. Jenkins detailed for the past six months, Bishop Battle has contributed over $200,000 to student scholarships specifically targeted for graduating seniors with financial need.
Bishop Battle greeted the attendees with a word of thanks. He said, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we want to thank the parents for giving us your best. Your children, now young adults, will go and change our world.” Bishop Battle acknowledged the Class of 1967 who participated as Golden Graduates and admitted, “ . . . just a few more years we will sit where you are and we pray we look as good as you.” In summation, Battle professed, “It is God who made us. It’s about him. To God we give the glory for Livingstone College.”
Mayor Karen Alexander brought greetings on behalf of the City of Salisbury and acknowledged Livingstone’s significance to the town. Her appreciation, “Thank you for all you do for our city,” was followed with a personal acknowledgement of a student-intern who is currently serving in the mayor’s office.
Additionally, attendees were greeted by Faculty Assembly President, Dr. Amy Susong and Senior Class President, Briana Snow. Musical selections by Livingstone College Concert Choir warmed the audience as the commencement speaker, (Rev. Dr.) Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook – excited, ignited and delighted those in her presence.
US Ambassador Cook paralleled lessons from Exodus 13-14 to the life journey of the graduating class. She encouraged the students to move forward with “front line faith for front line leadership,” and poetically sketched scenes of the Israelites experiencing agitation, irritation, a situation, confirmation, liberation and salvation – all leading to celebration. Ambassador Cook passionately left the graduates with resounding advice “take advantage of every opportunity, use what you have and march on.”
Unable to physically attend the graduation ceremony for medical reasons, Valedictorian Kenya Marie Glover sent an audio recording of her speech referencing Jeremiah 29:11. In her absence, Ms. Glover recognized her time at Livingstone was not “defined by a ceremony, but by the time she spent with her Blue Bear Family.” She encouraged her cohorts to, “Think of the bigger picture. Value family and friends. Stay woke when most are sleep. Keep God first at all times.”
Honorary degrees were awarded to Veteran Reverend Michael O. Carter, Presiding Elder of the Little Rock-Hot Springs District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Reverend Robert F. Kemp, Presiding Elder of the Cascade District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Both candidates were awarded Doctor of Divinity degrees as US Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook was a recipient of the Presidential Award.
After the conferring of degrees for over 150 graduates and recognition of Golden Graduates, President Jenkins extended a point of privilege to 2016 graduate David Draper who publically proposed marriage to 2017 graduate Khadijah Barrett and she accepted.
Considering the love of Bishop Battle to those in financial need, to the love of inspiration and empowerment from Ambassador Cook, and now the love of two Livingstonians, the event culminated with “goose pimples” as the newly minted alumni, joined the class of 1967 and other attendees to sing the alma mater, O’ Livingstone, My Livingstone.

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