Huntsville, Ala. ---- The President of Alabama A&M University and a league of dedicated staff members have traversed the state of Alabama on a 1,200-mile, five-day, first-ever bus tour of select metropolitan and rural areas spanning period of February 25-March 1. (See on-the-road PHOTOS by Quentin Pearson)
The bus returned to "The Hill" from the final stint in Tuscaloosa on Friday, March 1, at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Office of the President, where a warm welcoming group met the returning party and heard words from AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr. (See WELCOME BACK PHOTOS by J. Saintjones)
President Hugine was accompanied by student leaders, faculty, alumni, as well as staff from Admissions and Alumni Affairs, on the first 'Community Engagement Presidential Bus Tour.' The extensive bus tour departed Huntsville for central Alabama, proceeded for two days through the east central and Black Belt region of the state, continued down to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday (Day 4), and wrapped up a festive occasion March 1 in Tuscaloosa.
"More than 100 persons participated in some way to the success of this trip," said Hugine. "Throughout, we engaged alumni and friends, communities and stakeholders, and we were pleased to recieve the support of true alums from the 1940s."
Hugine went on to note that the Alabama tour encompassed some 16 high schools and a community college.
"We recruited some dynamic students and talent," said Hugine, adding that in addition to awarding more than 70 scholarships amounting to $1,365,841, the trip netted 75-100 students who applied and were accepted on the spot.
The President said witnessing the excitement and elation of students and the parents of scholarship recipients left him "re-energized and even more committed."
Hugine stated that AAMU was fortunate to have such a dedicated team that works together to make a difference in the lives of students.
The statewide tour covered the following areas:
Day 1 – Metro Birmingham
Hugine, students, staffers and area alumni volunteers began an aggressive itinerary. On February 25 (Day 1), the team pulled into George Washington Carver High School in Birmingham, Ala., at 8:30 a.m. Similar greetings and scholarship presentations were made at Bessemer City High School at 10:50 a.m. and Fairfield High School at 1:15 p.m. While in the Birmingham vicinity, the bus tour visited the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Office at 3 p.m. and joined an alumni reception hosted by the Greater Birmingham Area Alumni Association at 6:30 p.m. at the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel.
Day 2 – East Central Alabama
On Tuesday, February 26, the bus tour group arrived at Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala., at 10 a.m. Scholarship presentations were made at Carver, as well as at Jefferson Davis High School at 11:45 a.m. From Montgomery, the bus tour proceeded into the Black Belt region, where similar scholarship presentations were made at Bullock County High School in Union Springs, Ala., the birthplace of noted historian and pan-Africanist John Henrik Clarke. From Union Springs, the bus returned to Montgomery to visit the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Office at 3 p.m. and to attend a 6 p.m. alumni reception hosted by Montgomery and Tuskegee alumni.
Day 3 – Black Belt Region
The bus entourage arrived at 9:30 a.m. at South Side High School in Selma, Ala., on Wednesday, February 27, where it was greeted by 1978 alumnus and principal Clarence Jackson. At 11 a.m. the bus tour arrived at Selma High School, where 1976 AAMU alumna Wanda McCall serves as principal. Scholarship presentations were made at both venues. The presentation at Demopolis High School in Demopolis, Ala., at 1:20 p.m. concluded the tour’s travel through the Black Belt counties as it proceeded en route to the port city of Mobile.
Day 4 – Gulf Coast Region
The itinerary for the Mobile vicinity began Thursday, February, at 8:15 a.m. with an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc./Alumni Chapter Breakfast at the AKA Sorority House. The bus tour was slated to leave for a 10:30 a.m. scholarship presentation at Blount High School in Eight Mile, Ala. Additional scholarships were presented at Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala., at 11:45 a.m. and John LeFlore High School in Mobile, Ala. The group was also scheduled to visit the Mobile County Extension Office at 2:30 p.m. and to participate in a reception for honor students and counselors at Bishop State Community College at 6 p.m.
Day 5 – West Alabama
The final leg of the tour was set for Tuscaloosa (“T-Town”), home AAMU alumnus and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Stallworth. Hugine was scheduled to bring greetings and to make scholarship presentations at Central High School (merger of former Tuscaloosa High and Druid High) at 9 a.m. The bus was scheduled to arrive at Bryant High School in nearby Cottondale, Ala., for similar presentations at 10:30 a.m. before departing an hour later for Huntsville, where it was welcomed by Bulldog supporters at 2:30 p.m. in Clyde Foster auditorium.
- Jerome Saintjones