South Carolina State Senator John W. Matthews Jr. to Serve As Guest Speaker at 147th Founders' Day Convocation

Nov 17, 2016

Senator John Matthews at ClaflinSouth Carolina State Senator John W. Matthews Jr. will be the guest speaker for Claflin University’s 147th Founders' Day Convocation on Sunday November 20 at 4 p.m. in Tullis Arena, Jonas Thomas Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.  Admission is free and the public is invited. The convocation can be seen live on the Claflin University website.

Matthews was first elected to the South Carolina Legislature as a Democrat in 1975.  Since then, he has led the fight for economic development, job creation and education in the State of South Carolina.  Matthews represents District 39, which includes Bamberg, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton and Orangeburg counties.

Matthews served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1975 through 1984, before being elected to the State Senate in 1985.  He previously served as teacher and administrator in the public school system and as a small business owner.

Matthews  has received numerous awards and honors as a result of his distinguished leadership and service including the Orangeburg County Democrat of the Year; Minority Business Advocate of the Year and South Carolina Primary Health Care Legislator of the Year. He is a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from his alma mater, South Carolina State University.  Matthews is a member of the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame and a former chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.  He also is a member of the Claflin University Capital Campaign Steering Committee.

In 2004, Orangeburg County Council designated more than 500 acres located at the South East Quadrant of U.S. 301-176 Highway in Orangeburg County as the John W. Matthews Industrial Park. 

Matthews received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from South Carolina State University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the College of Charleston and South Carolina State University.

The Founders’ Day program also includes presentation of the Thaddeus K. Bythewood Award.  This year’s recipient will be Reverend Louis T. Cannon who graduated summa cum laude from Claflin in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology and chemistry.  Cannon spent most of his professional career as a research microbiologist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has authored and co-authored 13 papers and served as an instructor in tropical, microbial and fungal diseases at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Kenya National Institute of Tropical Disease, Nairobi, Kenya. While working in Kenya and visiting Mexico, he amassed an art collection and donated pieces to Claflin.

Several alumni chapters will be recognized during the convocation.  The Central/Savannah River Alumni Association, Greater New York Alumni Chapter, Florence Alumni Chapter and the Orangeburg Alumni Chapter will receive special acknowledgement for the success of their Signature Fundraising Event that raised $10,000 or more during Claflin’s Imagine the Possibilities Capital Campaign.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 535-5350 or

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