By Noah Pevey
Troy University held its 19th annual Leadership Conference celebrating African-American History Month last weekend.
The conference is put on by a combination of Troy University, the city of Troy and the community, according to Student Involvement and Leadership Assistant Director Sadaris Williams.
The conference, which began Friday night, takes place every year on the first weekend in February.
On Friday, author and historian Mary Frances Barry discussed the importance of leadership in society, particularly how the public should fulfil its civic duty, as well as voice its First Amendment rights.
“This is an election year and voting is very important and everyone should,” Barry said. “Running for office is very important, but I also believe that nonviolent protest is necessary in order to make politicians do what you want them to do.
“I say protest is an essential ingredient to politics.”
Barry stressed the importance of taking steps now to better students’ futures. She said high-achieving students will make good citizens.
“You should have a conscience, be informed, but mainly you should work; work on your academics,” she said. “You are here (at Troy) to learn to give you the skills to go out in life and I hope make a difference in a positive way.”
The conference wrapped up on Saturday with the daughter of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Peggy Kennedy Wallace, as the keynote speaker.
“I think the event went well,” Williams said. “Everybody did a great job of sticking to the theme and also giving information to students and everybody that they need.”
Williams added that about 85 students attended the conference, and there were more than 300 guests on campus. He said the goal next year is for 200 students to register to attend.
“I think we are hitting the mark on a lot of things, and I think the conference can grow a lot,” he said.
Barbara Patterson, the director of student involvement at Troy University, said she heard positive feedback from students and guests in attendance. She also expressed gratitude to the city for helping to play host to the conference.
“We’re very grateful to the city of Troy for being such a wonderful partner in this,” Patterson said. “They always contribute $10,000 toward the conference and many of their employees work on the conference to make it a success, and we’re so grateful to the city of Troy for that.”
“I think the leadership conference, as every year, was tremendous,” said SGA President Morgan Long. “This being the 19th annual leadership conference celebrating African American History Month is a testament to the diversity and inclusion that we have here at Troy University.
“I think more students should plan on attending this in the future. It’s a great conference.”
“Many organizations will pay for it for you, so you’re not coming out of pocket,” Long said. It’s a great way to network with individuals within and outside of the community, and it’s a fantastic workshop to learn from.”