By Sarah Kuper
This year marks the 50th anniversary of integration at Samford University.
As part of the commemoration of the enrollment of the first African-American student, Audrey Lattimore Gaston Howard, administrators are hosting several events to celebrate contributions of African-American students and alumni.
On March 1, author Eric Motley – previous Samford University student government association president, former special adviser to President George W. Bush, and executive vice president of the Aspen Institute – will be speaking as part of the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series.
Motley’s recent work, “Madison Park: A Place of Hope,” is a memoir about his youth growing up in Montgomery.
He was raised by his adoptive grandparents in a community called Madison Park — a community established by freed slaves in 1880.
In the book, Motley credits his grandparents for prioritizing his education and the greater Madison Park community for encouraging him to achieve great things.
Motley highlights how friends, neighbors and church members would volunteer in any way they could to ensure he had the resources and education to go to college and beyond.
The memoir has received high praise from fellow authors, including Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson, and from national media outlets, and it was listed as a “must-read” in the January edition of O, The Oprah Magazine.
Motley’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in Samford’s Wright Center.
In addition to the author series featuring Motley, Samford is marking the anniversary with several other programs and recognitions in the coming weeks.
The university will recognize notable African-American alumni with Audrey Gaston Howard Awards. Chosen by a committee of alumni, faculty and staff, nominees must have distinguished themselves through professional, civic and community achievement and involvement.
These individuals will be honored throughout February to coincide with Black History Month.
For tickets to the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author series, visit samford.edu/wrightcenter.
For a list of all the 50th anniversary of integration events, visit samford.edu/events/50thAnniversary.