“Some of us had not each seen each other in 50 years. We’re so honored to serve and enjoy five decades of our alma mater,” said Hattie Whitmire, a 2011 inductee into the Claflin University Hall of Fame and member of the 1962 Golden Class.
On Friday, May 11, the Golden Class came together at Ministers' Hall for The President's Luncheon in their honor. Like Whitmire said, it was the first time some members of the Class had seen each other since May 1962.
Judith Speights Murdaugh recalled that Ministers’ Hall was once the campus dining hall. With much affection, she noted the institution’s outstanding and committed professors. While the commitment to teaching surely hasn’t changed with time, Murdaugh noted the physical appearance of the campus is vastly different.
“I sit in awe of this campus,” Murdaugh said. “Claflin University is really growing.”
Murdaugh was formerly a speech therapist and music teacher who was married to the late Windred O. Murdaugh, ’63. During the luncheon, she proudly pointed out that she was from Kingstree, the same hometown as President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale.
Another member of the Golden Class, Daniel J. White fondly remembered his time at the institution, when tuition was $125 a semester no less. He spoke with passion in discussing the religious life on campus and members of class playing good band music on a Saturday night. White said the professors were mentors who serve kind of like “our moms and dads away from home.”
The Class of 2012 was very much a part of the fight for equality and social justice during their matriculation, he said. During a freezing November night, students marched down to the Hotel Eutaw in Orangeburg to occupy the building for a protest. Authorities sprayed them with fire hoses and arrested White and many others. “We preserved,” he said.
White worked for 34 years in education as a teacher. One time when working at predominantly white school in New York, a colleague asked him about where he went to school. He said Claflin. The colleague said they had never heard of the University.
“You are looking at Claflin,” White said in response.
Willie Wade said he came to Claflin with a lot of questions on his mind. A veteran of the military, he was also an insurance investigator and longtime teacher in Virginia and Maryland.
“Claflin University prepared me for the world,” Wade said. “Claflin University will give you what you need to survive and thrive.”
“At this moment, I am exceptionally proud of this University. We’ve come a long way,” he said.
President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale and First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale presented each member of the Class with a copy of Jo Petty's Apples of Gold, an inspirational book about the virtues of life.
In closing, Tisdale invoked the words of Claflin’s sixth president, Dr. Hubert V. Manning, who led Claflin in 1961.
“May God bless in you in your journey,” Tisdale told the Golden Class.