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Alum Reflects on Significance of King

calloway with students

Remembering a True Public Intellectual

The Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development recently hosted the 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Tuesday, January 10, in the Knight Center.   This year’s dynamic guest speaker was Don Calloway, Jr., attorney and contributor to MSNBC and CNN.  [PHOTOS – J. Saintjones; VIDEO – Electronic Media Communications]

Calloway AudienceAttorney Calloway is a graduate of Alabama A&M University, where he was president of the Student Government Association, and a member of the Gamma Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. He attended law school at the Boston University School of Law.  In that King also attended Boson University, Calloway said he would like to see a permanent structure on that campus is honor of King.

Currently, he serves as CEO and founder of Darrell Calloway, a venture capital fund, that focuses on impact investments in startups that work on platform technology, municipal infrastructure, and holistic equity. Darrell Calloway was started after a successful career in corporate America, including time in the C Suite at Enviva, the world’s largest biomass company.

“This is an extraordinarily exciting time for historically black colleges and universities, and I am so excited to continue to build on the legacy of Dr. (Andrew) Hugine and all those who came before,” said Calloway in his opening remarks.

The political commentator began his focus on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by calling the slain martyr “a true public intellectual,” an attribute that extended his “spirit-filled greatness.”  He noted that King was influenced by the work of prolific Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes, who penned the powerful essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” for The Nation magazine.   Although Hughes used his encounter with an aspiring poet who was ashamed of his blackness, Calloway said Hughes' response could apply to any African American in any profession.

Referring to blacks as originators of a system of venture capitalism, Calloway encouraged attendees to expand upon the relationships they had developed with the people within their own communities. He surmised that many black communities have within them everything an individual needs for future success.

Calloway and Kappas"Alabama A&M taught us to build and not to destroy," Calloway said, adding that "There is no one who will build you up or put more into you than your own black communities."

Calloway represented 50,000 residents as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, representing St. Louis County, including Ferguson from 2008-2010. During this period, he was also a senior associate in the business litigation practice of Thompson Coburn LLP, where he was responsible for assisting in defense verdicts in federal and state matters for multiple corporate clients in products liability, medical malpractice, and commercial disputes.

In 2018, Calloway founded the National Voter Protection Action Fund (NVPAF), a 501c4 organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression and expanding ballot box access particularly in states with a history of intentional voter suppression activity. NVPAF continues to operate to support voter protection efforts in federal and state elections nationwide, and to promote equitable election policy.

Attorney Calloway continues to regularly advise elected leaders in the White House, United States Congress, and several states, in addition to senior government leaders around the world. He also maintains an active law practice where he engages in pro-bono representation of indigent clients in civil matters. Don is a frequent contributor to multiple cable news networks, including MSNBC, CNN, and other global outlets.

For additional information about future activities related to the Beyond Normal Lecture Series, contact Dr. Pamela H. Little, executive director, Community College Relations and Global Initiatives, at (256) 372-4869.

- Submitted by Collin Malone