Samford University’s Racial Reconciliation Memorial was publicly dedicated during convocation hour on Tuesday, Feb. 15. The memorial was originally installed in 2020, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Samford University postponed its dedication. The memorial was built to specifically honor an African-American man named Harry, who, as explained in a Samford news release about the memorial, lived through slavery and died rescuing students from a burning building at Howard College in 1854. An inscription on the monument likewise honors Audrey Lattimore Gaston Howard, who was the first African American student admitted to Samford University in 1967.The memorial serves to affirm Samford’s current and future dedication to reconciliation and its commitment to justice for generations to come. The memorial can be found in Divinity Hall’s garden overlooking the quad.
On Tuesday morning, the Samford community, led by President Beck Taylor, Associate Provost for Student Success and Diversity and Inclusion Denise Gregory, Samford University Trustee Robert Holmes Jr. and Director of Diversity Enrichment and Relations Cameron Thomas, joined in song and sermon in the Wright Center. The ceremony consisted of speeches made by Taylor, Gregory, Holmes and Thomas as well as hymns led by the Student Gospel Choir. Senior pastor of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church and university trustee Reverend John L. Cantelow III gave a sermon. The pastor of Trinity Baptist Church and a university trustee, Reverend John E. King Jr., read the prayer of dedication. After the ceremony in the Wright Center, students and faculty gathered around the memorial and were given the opportunity to adorn it with roses. The dedication ceremony was a time for the entire Samford community to come together to honor the memory of the many African Americans who changed the course of Samford University forever.
“I am so proud to be a part of a university that takes its role in bringing about racial reconciliation to heart,” Taylor said. “As a Christ-centered university, Samford is and can be a leader in our region, in our state, and across the country.”