Auburn’s fifth annual Black Alumni Weekend coincides with the Alumni Center’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the integration of Auburn sports.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday, and it will continue through Sunday with multiple events.
Erin Hutchins, 2009 Auburn graduate, serves as the inclusion and diversity coordinator in the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Auburn Alumni Association. She has coordinated the weekend and said she is excited for what she thinks could be the best installation they’ve had. She said she expects over 500 participants to attend.
“One thing I know people are really going to enjoy is just getting to see classmates again and connecting with each other, and for the alumni, it’s meeting the students and getting to talk to them,” Hutchins said.
The set of events will begin with a panel of alumni for students to attend, which Hutchins said will be a great way for alumni to personally interact with current students.
“The panel is going to be a highlight for our alumni as well as our students to get to know who our alumni are, what they’re doing and how they got there, as well as learning about their experiences when they were students,” she said.
Moderated by Regina Sanders, engineering graduate, the panel will include eight alumni from three separate decades, including Thom Gossom, the first black athlete to graduate from Auburn. The panel will be held in the Student Center Ballroom at 6 p.m on Sept. 26.
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On Friday, there will be a silent auction from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Various colleges will be hosting events throughout the day.
The Auburn Family Friday Speaker Series, held each Friday before every home football game, will feature Sam Heys. An award-winning author and journalist, Heys now tells the story of Henry Harris, a transcendent figure during the sports integration movement in the Southeastern Conference in the 1970s.
Later that evening, an awards dinner will be held in the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center from 7:30 to 9 p.m. for students of all colleges and schools to be honored for their achievements.
“It’s such a warm atmosphere,” Hutchins said. “People are having their accolades read out, and you can hear in the crowd the ruffle of, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing,’” Hutchins said. “It’s a very vibrant and colorful atmosphere.”
Deans, Board of Trustee members and administrators from across the University will all be in attendance. In accordance with the 50th anniversary of integrated Auburn athletics, the families of Harris and James Owens will be in attendance.
Also on Friday, the Auburn NPHC: Tiger Stomp Step Show 2019 will be held in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum from 8 to 11 p.m. Tickets cost $15.
For game day, a tailgate will be held on Cater Lawn from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., leading up to the game against Mississippi State at 6 p.m.
“The tailgate is always fun,” Hutchins said. “We’ll have all the attractions and inflatables and all that, and people get to connect there.”
The weekend will be capped off with a brunch from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Scholarship Terrace and Mezzanine in Auburn Arena.
“The brunch is the culminating event and sets the tone for what we have to do in terms of black alumni in Auburn and our roles in connecting with our students and helping with recruitment,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins made a point to mention that the weekend is for everybody — not just black alumni. She said it’s a way for Auburn alumni to see this segment of the Auburn Family.
“There’s only a few of us since ‘64 out over 200,000 graduates,” she said. “It’s a small community of alumni that make a big impact.”
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