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86th Annual National Celebration of Black History

Opening Program Feb. 1, 2012

7:00 P. M.

John Georges Auditorium Professional Schools Building

“The Background and Contemporary Meaning of Celebrating Black History”

The celebration, set for 7 p.m. in the Georges Auditorium of the Professional Schools Building, will feature a lecture from Dr. Alan Colón, eminent professor of African diasporan studies and professor of African world studies at Dillard University. The lecture is titled “The Background and Contemporary Meaning of Celebrating Black History.” This event is free and open to the public.

Art Exhibit Featuring Dillard Alumna Darlene A. Moore

Opening Reception Feb. 2, 2012

5:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.

The Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center will feature works of art by four African-American artists for Black History Month. The exhibition opens with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, and will run through March 31. Featured artists will be Ella Guillory, Randell Henry, Ronald Kennedy and Darlene A. Moore.

Moore is a United Methodist minister and visual artist who received a bachelor of arts degree from Dillard University in New Orleans and master of divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta. Her designs and logos have been used in association with the Methodist Heritage Center and on the cover of several international publications through the United Methodist Church. Moore has shown her paintings and collages in various galleries and art spaces across the Louisiana region.

Coming Soon...

Black Heritage Ball

Dates and time to follow.


For Black History Month, Dillard University recognizes its distinguished alumni who were firsts in their fields.For Black History Month, Dillard University recognizes its distinguished alumni who were firsts in their fields.


James Bernard Knighten was an African American who made history. Like many of the men featured in George Lucas' "Red Tails", his role as one of the Tuskegee Airmen made him a decorated hero. But, Knighten wasn't just an Air Force Man; his work as a well-known comic in Las Vegas made him famous as well.

A Dillard alumnus, Knighten graduated in 1940 with a degree in social studies. During his time at Dillard, Knighten pledged Kappa Alpha Psi. After Dillard, he had the choice to attend Howard University Law School on a scholarship, study for the ministry at Gammon Theological Seminary in Chicago, or join the Army Air Corps cadets. Knighten chose the latter to avoid being drafted into the military. In those days, blacks that were drafted were usually assigned the least glamorous positions of custodians or cooks.

Before training at the historic Tuskegee Army Airfield, Knighten had never flown a plane. The novice quickly turned into a professional, earning the nickname “The Eel,” which was also the name of his P-40 fighter. The war hero flew a total of 81 missions and was decorated with the Air Medal. After WWII, Knighten remained in the Air Force and saw action in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Known for his witty one-liners, Knighten tried his hand at comedy in the mid ’50s, in and around New York City and near the McGuire Field where he was stationed. Stand-up continued to be a love of his, leading to his relocating to Las Vegas in the ’80s. During that time, Knighten was part of the Jazz and Jokes Players at the Debbie Reynolds Hotel.

Not only was he a beloved comedian and war hero, he was also a beloved father and husband and proud Dillard alumnus. His contributions to America and to Dillard University will be remembered.



RuthSimmons-WebTime, Newsweek, Glamour and Ms. magazines know a winner when they see one. These distinguished publications have all recognized Ruth Simmons as a “person to watch”, “America’s Best College President”, and “Woman of the Year”, twice. Not only is she an outstanding leader and educator, but also a trailblazer in the African American community; first to inaugurate an engineering course at a Woman’s College and first to be President of an Ivy League College.

Simmons, a 1967 Dillard University graduate, went on to receive her Ph.D. in Romance Literature and Languages from Harvard. Her love for learning led her to a path in higher education. After years at Princeton, Spelman and Smith Colleges, Brown was invited to become the first African American President of an Ivy League School, beginning her decade long tenure at Brown University.

During her time at Brown University, Simmons has created an ambitious set of initiatives designed to expand and strengthen the faculty; increase financial support and resources for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students; improve facilities; renew a broad commitment to shared governance; and ensure that diversity informs every dimension of the university. These initiatives have led to a major investment of new resources in Brown’s educational mission. At the close of this academic year, Simmons will step down as President of Brown University.

Though there are several key areas of education that Simmons champions such as the role of women in higher education and diversity on campuses, it is the preparation for students to become informed, conscientious citizens that holds the greatest meaning to Simmons.

Today, Simmons continues as a leader working on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, as well as holding prominent positions on various boards and committees. In 2011, Simmons joined the Dillard University Board of Trustees. We are grateful for her contributions to education and look forward to her stewardship here.



studentmarchesErnest Kinchen Jr. is a man of many firsts. He is the first African American to train in the Charity Hospital System; the first African American to intern at Charity Hospital; the first African American to be admitted to staff of Lafayette General Medical Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, La. Though he is known and acknowledged for being a pioneer in the field of medicine, Dr. Kinchen was also a pioneer back in his days as a Dillard University student.

Back in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, few HBCUs in the Deep South were protesting, let alone marching or participating in such activities. Student Government leader Ernest Kinchen Jr. wanted to change things at Dillard University. He lobbied for Dillard students to be allowed to quietly, peacefully march from the Dillard Campus entrance along Gentilly Boulevard. He wanted to support the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement and send a strong message that African American students demanded equal rights. His group would become the first college protest in the New Orleans area to demonstrate. His actions made headlines in newspapers and on newscasts across the country.

Kinchen learned to channel his strength of character throughout his life to break through barriers in several professional arenas. Along with his many accomplishments in the medical fields as an African American, (first member of the Lafayette Parish Medical Society), Kinchen also was the first African American to serve on the board of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. He credits his beginnings at Dillard University for helping him become the man he is today.

Recently, Kinchen shared some of his most memorable experiences with Dillard faculty. “My sincere appreciation to the rich Dillard heritage that prepared me well for a journey that has just begun,” he writes.



glenda mcnealFor Dillard University (DU) alumna Glenda McNeal, modesty is the best policy. Though her hard work, dedication and business acumen have made her a leader, she still ascribes much of her success to others. McNeal attributes her achievements to a “significant personal and professional support system” of friends and mentors, as well as to her husband. Her list of accomplishments is long – her affiliations with non-profits and other benefactors, even longer.

McNeal began her professional career as an accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co. and worked her way to more senior positions with prestigious companies such as Salomon Brothers, before landing at American Express. Today, the trailblazer serves as executive vice president and general manager of the Global Client Group within Merchant Services America at American Express.

Not only is McNeal a DU graduate, but she is also a member of the Dillard University board of trustees, where she serves as vice chair, and chair of the nominating and governance committees. She credits Dillard for providing her with a strong foundation to go on to graduate studies and compete with the best Ivy League schools. “Dillard prepared me with a good education and a nurturing environment,” she says. “It gave me the foundation for success, and I consider Dillard a part of my family,” adds the Louisiana native.

The busy mother of two finds time to share her business expertise with other organizations such as the Pepsi Ethnic Consumer Advisory Board, United Steel and the Executive Leadership Council. Her tireless work ethic allows her to share her expertise with others.

“I have a passion to learn and contribute,” she says. “These board positions have allowed me to broaden my thinking.”

Her input has earned her the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award from Dillard University, in addition to several other key awards. Named one of the American Express Company’s “150 Great Citizens”, one of The Network Journal’s “25 Most Influential Black Women in Business” and a recipient of the Women of Power and Grace Award from the Race for Success Foundation, McNeal is a celebrated business woman with many awards in her cache.


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