Former student government president to speak at Livingstone

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2015

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

The Rev. Malcolm J. Byrd, a former Student Government Association president at Livingstone College, will be the guest speaker at Livingstone’s weekly assembly on April 8.

Byrd attended Livingstone from 2001 to 2005 before transferring to State University of New York at Purchase, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He also has a master’s degree in theological studies from the Pacific School of Religion and is completing a master of theology in homiletics from Princeton Theological Seminary.

When he was at Livingstone, Byrd was a Presidential Scholar, president of the college’s NAACP chapter and a student member of The Livingstone College Board of Trustees. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

For the past 10 months, Byrd has served as pastor of Jackson Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Hempstead, N.Y. Before accepting the post at Jackson Memorial, he was pastor of First AME Zion Church in San Franciso for five years.

Byrd, 31, has served in various capacities in local and national leadership. From 1998 to 2002, he was the national chaplain for the Varick International Christian Youth Council. He’s the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of Woodson University in Concord, and has served as vice chairman of the Board for the Brockton Church and Community Afterschool Program in Brockton, Mass. He’s also a former trustee of the Robert Perry Corp. in Greenport, N.Y. and former member of the Barber-Scotia Foundation in Concord.

Currently, Byrd is a board member of the Leon W. Watts II Memorial Scholarship Fund, which recently made a sizeable donation to Livingstone College.

A Long Island, N.Y., native, Byrd has been described as a master orator with a keen focus on English prose and lore of yesteryear. He accepts more than 100 speaking engagements annually, has been featured as a headliner at various national conferences, colleges and universities, religious congregations and civic observances, and he has lectured and preached at Harvard University on numerous occasions.

Byrd said he’s mulling over different topics for his speech at Livingstone.

“I might speak about what biblical leadership looks like in 2015, but whatever I discuss will connect with the plight of African-American youth,” he said. “There are a number of things that are occurring in our country about which I think historically black institutions should be having public discourse and public dialogue.

“I think we cannot, even in academic settings, act as though the world’s realities are not also our realities,” Byrd continued. “It’s important for students to be fully prepared for the world they will be entering following commencement. In my message, I hope to tell students how they can take their experience from Livingstone to make their mark in the world as leaders and as productive citizens.”

In addition to being a pastor, Byrd is a champion for human rights and issues of fairness and often gets involved in causes aimed at assisting the downtrodden or people who have been marginalized.

He is fondly regarded as the “Picketing Preacher” because it’s not uncommon for him to march while holding signs. Likewise, he ascribes to a sentiment voiced by the late civil rights clergyman The Rev. Vernon Johns, “When you see a good fight, get in it!”

The assembly begins at 11 a.m. in Varick Auditorium. The public is invited.