The South Carolina Chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. will convene the organization's 57th District Conference Oct. 13-14 on the campuses of Claflin University and South Carolina State University.
During its public program from 6-7:30 on Friday, Oct. 13, the fraternity will honor two new South Carolina Living Legends from chapters in the Orangeburg area. It will also continue to commemorate The Emanuel Nine, who were slain on June 17, 2015, at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. A reception is planned afterward. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center on the Claflin campus.
Honorees are as follows:
South Carolina Alpha Living Legends -- Henry L. “Hank” Robinson, 65, of Easley, a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., is one of the Living Legends. A business major at South Carolina State, Robinson worked for over 40 years in the Finance Department there until his retirement.
Another Living Legend is Willie J. Jefferson of Mayesville, who earned a bachelor's in biological sciences at Voorhees College and a master's in biological sciences and education at South Carolina State. He is employed at Voorhees as director of external affairs, operations and special events.
The Emanuel Nine Award for Educational Support -- Dr. Thelma F. Sojourner, the first woman to serve as superintendent in Bamberg School District 2, is this year's honoree. A graduate of Voorhees and S.C. State, Sojourner has been an advocate for public education and enhancing the lives of minority and disadvantaged children for more than 50 years.
The Emanuel Nine Award for Volunteerism -- This year's honoree is Liz Zimmerman Keitt, the founder/director of Project Life: Positeen, an after-school program that provides tutoring to students and life skills to parents. Zimmerman Keitt volunteers countless hours to her alma mater, Claflin, and serves as an Orangeburg City Council member.
The Emanuel Nine Award for Faith -- Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler, one of this year's recipients, was elected in 2013 as the city's first African-American mayor and was recently re-elected to a second term. Butler graduated from Claflin with a bachelor's in education. He founded Victory Tabernacle Deliverance Temple of the Apostolic Faith Inc. and was elevated to Suffragan Bishop in Region 6 of the South Carolina State Council’s 24th Episcopal District.
Also receiving this award is Rev. Ellis White Jr., a native of Lynchburg who graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's in political science. White obtained his Masters of Divinity from Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West. He is an Ordained Elder in the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and pastor of Edisto Fork United Methodist Church in Orangeburg.
The Emanuel Nine Award for Political Activism -- One of this year's recipients is state Sen. John W. Matthews Jr., who has served as a legislator since 1975. Matthews previously was a teacher and administrator in the public school system and small business owner. He served on House and Senate committees that worked to improve education, economic development and job creation in the state. Matthews earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at S.C. State.
Also receiving the award is Dr. Cleveland Sellers Jr., an educator and veteran civil rights activist and political figure. While a student at Howard University, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and became a program director, focusing on voter registration in Mississippi. He marched and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sellers was convicted for allegedly instigating the Orangeburg Massacre, spent several years in prison and received a full pardon 25 years after the incident.
The Emanuel Nine Award for Safety -- Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell won his first run for political office when he was elected the county's 52nd sheriff on Jan. 25, 2011. He was re-elected for a full term on Nov. 6, 2012. He continues to give back to his alma mater, Claflin, as an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
For more information on the convention and for tickets, visit www.scalpha.org.