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Livingstone’s freshman class is ‘fired up and ready to go’

SALISBURY — The Livingstone College freshman class was inducted last Friday during fall convocation and charged to embrace their distinction in history.

The freshmen enter Livingstone as the college celebrates its 140th anniversary and as the country recognizes the 400th anniversary of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“It was exactly 400 years ago that the first enslaved Africans from Angola were brought to the shores of the United States and sold off as human capital in Point Comfort, near Jamestown, Virginia,” said Bishop W. Darin Moore, the keynote speaker.

Moore is treasurer of the Livingstone board of trustees and is presiding prelate of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District of the AME Zion Church.

“Your class is beginning your journey at Livingstone at this critical juncture in the history of our country and for our people,” he said. “We’ve come to charge you and to acknowledge the calling that is on your lives. You will impact the future unlike any other generation that has come before you.”

Moore’s advice to students and the audience prompted many to their feet with “amen” approvals.

Using the character Kunta Kinte from Alex Haley’s novel and TV miniseries “Roots,” Moore told the audience to be confident in their identity. Kunta Kinte as a child was raised affirming his name. But when he became enslaved, his master tried to change it to Toby, having him whipped relentlessly until he surrendered.

“The oppressor starts by trying to make you forget who you are,” Moore said. “Know who you are. They want to label you so they can limit you. They want to define you so they can confine you. You are more than what they say you are.”

Moore also demonstrated the power of one voice, recounting the story of how President Barack Obama first used his campaign chant, “Fired up, ready to go!” It was during a campaign rally in Greenwood, South Carolina, and he wasn’t feeling well physically or about his campaign.

“Unexpectedly, a woman by the name of Edith S. Childs started to chant, “Fired up, ready to go!” That one voice became so contagious that it changed the room and changed him and changed the Democratic primary and changed the course of America in electing the first African-American president,” Moore said.

He asked students to repeat after him: “Lord, give me the confidence to believe that all things are possible. Give me the clarity to see your purpose for my life. And give me the courage to act to fulfill your promises for my life.”

Student government President Anthony Bowman also revved up the crowd with a speech offering a parable about a potato, an egg and ground coffee beans and how they each respond differently in boiling water.

“Which are you?” he asked. “The potato that becomes weak and feeble under pressure; the egg that hardens under pressure; or the ground coffee bean that transforms under pressure, being unique and durable to stand the pressure.”

The freshman class, each wearing T-shirts that read, “I am the life out of the stone,” participated in a candle-lighting ceremony, with 14 students representing the qualities of wisdom, love, compassion, tenacity, truth, justice, art, beauty, character, equality, knowledge, faith, hope and scholarship.

“We are grateful that you have chosen to be a part of the Livingstone College learning experience,” said Bishop Kenneth Monroe, vice chairman of the board of trustees and an alumnus. “Each of you are challenged to defy the odds that constantly confront us.”

“This program, which serves as a rite of passage for our freshman class and recognizes our senior class, was filled with great information from dynamic speakers that visibly seized the attention of our students and affirmed their pursuits of academic excellence in a holistic learning environment,” said Livingstone President Jimmy R. Jenkins. “This was a great commencement to what we hope will be a productive and successful year for our students.”

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