The annual Black History Month celebration at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Convocation Center honored first-year students who earned 4.0 grade point averages throughout the Fall 2018 semester. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 this event shined a light on Black excellence with keynote speaker Louisiana Fourth-Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Terri Love and United Negro College Fund special guest Netti Washington Douglass, the great-great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and the great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington. Douglass presented Xavier senior Sydney Green with the first ever $10,000 Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship. T
“As a student and as alumni, always remember that your reputation and your legacy must be maintained. Sometimes maintaining is harder than achieving,” Love told the audience.
After beginning her remarks with a prayer, Love said she was honored to see the extraordinary academic achievements by students. She encouraged them to continue their hard work and to use education as a tool for their advancement.
“Freedom is now something that we have to work on in our brains,” Love said.
She stated that it was crucial for African Americans to use knowledge to progress forward in society given the historical challenges the community has faced.
“If you’re breathing you are achieving,” Love said, “We also have to remember that we are free to accomplish,” she added.
She encouraged students to uplift their fellow peers to succeed and cited Frederick Douglass’ political push to support women to have equal voting rights as an example of this. Love stressed that millennials should not only exercise the right to vote but become informed voters for the 2020 presidential election.
“I guarantee you if you’re moving to assist others and yourself, you will be praying with your legs, and most of all, you’ll be living your best life,” Love said.
Nettie Washington Douglass, who worked as a teacher, said that Sydney Green’s commitment to become a teacher and to educate young minds is in keeping with Frederick Douglass’ life story.
“I never want to stop teaching. My goal is to stay inside the classroom transforming lives,” Douglass said about the importance of teaching. “[Frederick Douglass’] success is guaranteed every time because his legacy has already been written,” Nettie Washington Douglass said about the scholarship in his name.
She compared her great-great grandfather’s sense of duty to her community to Green’s. His legacy should inspire young people to define their own success in life, she said, and it is one of the reasons Green said she admired Frederick Douglass’ decision to use his knowledge to impact his community for generations to come.
“This is why I will keep his legacy alive by becoming an educator,” Green said. “Once again thank you to Xavier and UNCF for granting me this scholarship,” she said.