Perry, Phillips highlight Black Excellence Awards
Elon's first black students spoke to current students at the 20th annual ceremonies on April 27.
Glenda Phillips, who was the first black student to attend Elon in 1963, and Eugene Perry '69, the first black person to graduate from Elon, were honored at the 20th Annual Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards banquet. They were introduced by Lundon Sims '02.
Perry said he had waited a long time to address a distinguished gathering at Elon. "Forty-four years ago, I thought I had said my goodbyes to Elon, but that was not the case," Perry said to a large crowd in Alumni Gym. He said he reconnected with the university when the sons and daughters of his friends enrolled at Elon.
"Returning to Elon has always been an emotional struggle, but I assure you that I am proud to be a graduate of this institution," Perry said. Speaking to students being honored at the event, Perry said, "My hope and wish is that you will acquire all the dreams of your hearts, for indeed, you have chosen to walk the way of the Phoenix."
Phillips was joined by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert and keynote speaker Kim Mack '87, associate vice president of human resources at LabCorp, Inc., in praising the academic success of the 130 students who were honored.
Mack called the students "achievers," and called on them to adopt the spirit of a first responder, a reference to those who rushed to the aid of the injured at the recent Boston Marathon bombing.
"Get the spirit of the first responder – there is a whole underclass that is waiting for you, the achievers, to respond (to their needs)," Mack said.
Since the Black Excellence Awards Banquet was begun in 1993, Elon students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and friends have gathered annually to celebrate the academic success of black students. The goal is to recognize, celebrate and affirm the presence of black students at Elon University.
Students who were honored had achieved a grade point average of 3.2 or above for fall semester, or had a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or above at the end of fall semester.