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Celebrating the 50th Class Reunions: A Time-Honored Tradition

Three Reunion Classes Pledge $1 Million Each for Student Scholarships

A golden class 50th anniversary graduate looks on during Howard University's commencement

For the first time, three Golden Classes will celebrate their reunions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Classes of 1971 and 1972 will join the Class of 1973 in celebrating their 50th reunions during the 2023 commencement.  

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of any class is a proud tradition at Howard University, celebrated by weekend-long activities, the highly anticipated processional and front-section seating of the Golden Class during commencement.  

Ludlow B. McKay, the 50th Class Reunion chairperson and co-chairperson Margaret A. Scott Graves, EdD, shared their thoughts on the 50th class reunion celebration and the importance of supporting Howard University. 

“Coming to Howard was something that was very special, it’s kind of a tradition in my family and now to be celebrating my 50th anniversary is truly significant,” said McKay, who has not missed a commencement or homecoming since 1969. He also emphasized staying connected to the Howard family as part of the reason he has persevered long enough to participate in his golden class. 

“What I recommend is to continue being part of the Howard family because it keeps you alive. It’s rejuvenating every time that you come here and fellowship with the people that you went to school with, and sometimes you don’t have to be in the same class with them but just be part of the Howard family,” McKay added. 

Graves highlighted the 50th class reunion theme for inspiration and motivation to support Howard. “The one thing that the University has said to us and uses as a slogan is to return, renew and recommit, and that’s how the University has been able to become more powerful, become more politically involved, become larger in terms of schools and in terms of students attending. It is very important for us to continue to do those three things—return, renew and recommit,” she said. 

“It is the most exhilarating experience to reach such a level of accomplishment, and I’m looking forward to seeing my classmates, renewing my commitment with them as well as the school,” Graves added. 

These three classes matriculated at Howard during pivotal moments in history.  

The time was the late sixties through the early seventies: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the Congressional Black Caucus was founded, Congress passed the Home Rule Act giving Washington the right to elect its own mayor and city council, and Harold Washington became the first mayor of the District of Columbia. President Richard Nixon had won a second term, the Vietnam War was ending, and the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade ruling that affirmed a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.  

Former Howard president James E. Cheek, PhD, presided over the commencement for the class of 1973. The late writer, director and actor Ossie Davis was the commencement orator and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer-winning author Alex Haley, the first female U.S. deputy solicitor general Jewel LaFontant and Davis were presented with honorary degrees. The alumni within the Classes of 1973, 1972 and 1971 have become successful, well-known leaders, educators, artists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, architects, CEOs and healthcare professionals whose track records represent Howard’s esteemed motto — Excellence in Truth and Service.  

Each of the three reunion classes has pledged $1 million to support current and future students. The Class of 1973 will also use funds to support the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center’s digitalization of papers for the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a fellow class member. To date, the classes of 1973, 1972 and 1971 have raised more than $305,000, $685,000 and $862,000, respectively, toward their goals. Final totals will be officially presented by each class during the All Classes Reunion Luncheon in the ballroom of the Armour J. Blackburn University Center. 

The weekend celebrations for the 50th class reunions begin Thursday, May 11 at Howard with campus tours followed by a meet-and-greet reception at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel. On Friday, May 12, participants will be treated to a Welcome Back Breakfast and Champagne reception at the Marriott Renaissance and a soiree that evening.  Prior to commencement on Saturday, May 13, alumni will enjoy a continental breakfast before donning robes in preparation for the processional. 

The Golden Reunion Gala is Saturday evening at the Marriott Renaissance. The weekend will conclude with a farewell breakfast-brunch on Sunday, May 14. All alumni of the classes of 1973, 1972 and 1971 must register here to participate in the 50th Class Reunions. Take this opportunity to join fellow classmates in celebrating an epic milestone, reminiscing great times as students on The Yard, supporting current and future students through scholarship and witnessing the commencement of the Class of 2023 as they chart their pathways of success and achievements.