The Rev. Darryl Caldwell, Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Banks, encouraged participants in the Congressman John Robert Lewis Leadership Conference to remember the past, while also dedicating themselves to bringing about a better future.
Presented by Troy University and the City of Troy, the two-day conference ended on Saturday with plenary sessions for adult and student participants and the Bishop S.D. James Luncheon session, named for the longtime supporter and member of the Conference Advisory Committee who passed away in 2020.
Speaking during that luncheon session, Caldwell said it is important to remember those who came before us and the journey they had to endure.
“If we are to matriculate toward a healthy body, mind and community, in the spirit of John Robert Lewis, we must remember the path of the pioneers,” he said. “If you want to appreciate where you’re going, it’s good to look back at where you come from and appreciate all of those who invested in you for you to enjoy the modern conveniences we now have.”
Caldwell remembered the journey of the conference’s namesake, the late Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Robert Lewis.
“There are always those who are willing to engage their bodies and embrace. This is the spirit of John Robert Lewis,” he told the audience. “He was not a member of Walt’s Gym, he did not have the pleasure — like his younger brother — of putting on his Adidas or his Nikes and jogging, but I can tell you what he did engage the use of his body for. He engaged the use of his body to march. He did not march as if he was trying to keep step with some rhythmic beat of a band, he was marching, walking, persevering to make a difference for those who had no voice.”
Even when difficult times occur, it is important to move forward with perseverance. Caldwell recalled the Bible story of Paul and Silas singing from their prison cells at midnight, not allowing their current circumstances to define them or their outcome.
“Midnights will inevitably knock on all our doors, and if you don’t have a song at midnight to conquer the world then the world will conquer you. They kept on singing and the prisoners heard. They might incarcerate your body, but if you have an informed mind, no one can incarcerate your mind. When you have an informed mind, you can write like W.E.B. DuBois, you can operate like Ida B. Wells, you can articulate like Martin Luther King Jr.”
Caldwell encouraged participants to do what they can to bring about a better, more healthy community.
“What you do now ought to benefit someone else. When your body is healthy, when your mind is healthy, then the community can be healthy,” he said. “As we leave this leadership conference and this moment of celebration, we ought to leave with the same inspiration John Robert Lewis had.”
Lamar P. Higgins Leadership Awards
Also, during the conference closing session, a group of Troy University students were honored with the Lamar P. Higgins Leadership Awards. Higgins, who passed away in 2021, was a 1981 TROY graduate who became the University first African-American Student Government Association President. He was re-elected to a second term by the student body. In 1996, he was appointed to the University’s Board of Trustees. During his tenure on the board, Higgins was instrumental in the planning and construction of the Rosa Parks Library and Museum on the University’s Montgomery Campus and for establishing the Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month, which now bears the name of John Robert Lewis.
Receiving the awards were:
- Dalton Cates, a senior Global Business major with a concentration in Marketing from Leeds, Alabama, who currently serves as the Executive Vice President of SGA, the President of the marketing club, Vice President of Finance for Farmhouse Fraternity and the Attorney General and President Pro Tem of Alabama Collegiate Legislature. Upon graduation this spring, Cates will continue his job as the Marketing Director for Seay, Seay & Litchfield Architects.
- Emmanuel “Manny” Marsh, a senior Global Business major with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Lithonia, Ga, who currently serves as the President of the Phi Beta Sigma, an SGA Senator, a member of the Troy University Track Team, a Representative on the Troy Student Athletic Advisory Council and Treasurer on the Troy NPHC Executive Council. Marsh plans to graduate next spring and will pursue a job in Human Resource Management.
- Mithzi Bharucha, a senior Business Administration major with a concentration in Economics from India, is currently serving as a Human Resource intern with Sodexo catering, the food service provider at Troy University. She is the Vice President of operations for the Risk Management and Insurance fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma, a member of TROY’s International Student Cultural Organization and an Associate Justice on the SGA’s Supreme Court.
- Ava Carnazza, a senior Global Business major with a concentration in Marketing from Enterprise, Ala., currently serves as SGA President and has served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council for Sorrell College of Business. She is a member of Order of Omega, the Compass Club, Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, The 87 of Troy University and an IMPACT Leader.
- Lauren Buehler, a senior Social Science Education major from Daphne, Ala., is the former president of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, was a Homecoming Court Representative, and is a Trojan Ambassador and an SGA Presidential cabinet member. After graduating this Spring, she will pursue a job as a teacher.
- Jordan Jones, a senior Biomedical Science major from the Bahamas, is President for the Troy University Chemical Society, an event coordinator for the International Student Cultural Organization, an SGA presidential cabinet member, and a pianist for Chi Alpha worship team. Jones plans to graduate in December.
- Tim Showalter, a Computer Science major from Montgomery, is a Resident Director on campus, serves on the SGA Supreme Court, a former SGA Executive Vice President, a member in 101 ELITE men, and Vice president of the Computer Science Club. Showalter plans to graduate this May and pursue a job in the field of information technology.
- Myles Camel, a Broadcast Journalism major from Dothan, is the current president of 101 ELITE Men and the TRIO program and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He has also served as an IMPACT Leader, a Trojan Ambassador, SGA Vice President of Campus Activities, and a Troy TrojanVision News anchor. Camel plans to graduate in December.
- Jayla Clanton, a senior Data Analytics major from Birmingham, Ala., is a member of the Data Analytics Club, Secretary of Student Support Service Club, and a member of the Marketing Club. Clanton is the head of the Student Government Association’s Traffic Appeals Committee.
- Emani Smith-Jordan, a senior Exercise Science, Pre-Health major from Huntsville, Ala., is currently the President of Troy University Gospel Singers, Vice President of Sparkle Mentoring Club, former President of the Black Student Union, a member of the NAACP and M.I.S.S. Elite Society. She will graduate this summer and plans to further her education by attending Alabama A&M to earn a master’s degree in Kinesiology.