On Saturday, October 6, 2018 eight outstanding Rutgers University alumni were welcomed into the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance (RAAA), Inc. 2018 Hall of Fame. The 15th milestone anniversary was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The purpose of Hall of Fame Ceremony is to both celebrate and honor the accomplishments of Rutgers University graduates who have distinguished themselves by contributions they have made to the community, to the University or in their fields of endeavor; by the leadership they have exhibited; and by the general benefits to the larger society resulting from their efforts. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Paul Robeson Scholarship Fund through the Rutgers University Foundation.
In celebration of 15 years of acknowledgment and excellence, the induction ceremony was themed “Going Back to Our Roots.” The theme served as an invitation for the alumni community to remember the village and to consider playing a more active role in RAAA activities for it takes a village to run the village. This year's event also served as a precursor to the upcoming year-long celebration of the 100th graduation of Paul Robeson from Rutgers College anchored by the April 2019 dedication of the Class of 1971 Paul Robeson Plaza. Images of the highly anticipated 2019 Paul Robeson Plaza were showcased during the evening.
The night began with a “Red Carpet” reception prior to the Induction Ceremony allowing the 300+ guests an opportunity to network with the Inductees, Rutgers alumni, along with community partners and other guests. Included amongst the record crowd were student leaders representing the Camden, Newark and New Brunswick campuses.
The Wakanda like induction ceremony was kicked off by a procession into the ballroom led by the by the Rutgers University Mason Gross dance troupe, “Culturedfunk” followed by MC and 2005 Hall of Fame inductee, Alfred Edmond, Jr., Dr. Barbara Lee, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Class of 2018 Inductees: Ms. Valerie Anderson, Ms. Rachael Ankrah-Fosu, Mrs. Carolyn V. Chang, and Mr. Derrick L. Green, Ms. Brenda Hopper, Mr. Richard W. Roper and Dr. Kendell Sprott: not present Ms. Regina Belle.
Dr. Barbara Lee provided greetings on behalf of President Barchi and Rutgers University. Additional greetings came by the way of pre-recorded messages from Interim New Brunswick Chancellor, Dr. Christopher Malloy and Governor Phil Murphy. M. Regina Belle, currently on tour, provided her acceptance speech via a pre-record message as well. Dr. Randal Pinkett, 2005 HOF Inductee and RAAA Paul Robeson Plaza Ambassador, served as a special guest and presenter.
The welcoming space was decorated with theme inspired décor to include elaborate Kente cloth table runners and adorning afro-centric center pieces. Dr. Melanie R. Hill, a gospel violinist and Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of English- Rutgers University New Brunswick set the tone with her rendition of “The Black National Anthem.” She later performed a stirring piece “Move every Mountain” later in the program. Musical entertainment as provided by “The Tyrone Project.”
Included among the many distinguished guests were Dr. Felica McGinty, Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration and Planning; Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, the longtime pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark and former chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors; Ms. Marcia Brown, RAAA 2004 Hall of Fame and Vice Chancellor for External and Governmental Relations for Rutgers Newark; Senator Ronald Rice, RAAA 2015 Hall of Fame; Mr. Jim Savage, Rutgers University 1971 Milestone Committee Paul Robeson Plaza Chair along with Mr. John E. Harmon, Sr., Founder, President and CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.
Lead support was provided by two Presenting Sponsors: The Chancellor’ Office Rutgers University Newark under the leadership of Dr. Nancy Cantor and the New Brunswick Division of Academic Affairs under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Dr. Ben Sifuentes-Jáurequi and Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. James Whitney III.
The Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED) lent support as a Platinum sponsor under the leadership of Executive Director Mr. Lyneir Richardson: Managing Director Ms. Jasmine Cordero; Academic Director and RAAA 2008 Hall of Fame Dr. Jeffrey Robinson and Assistant Director, Mr. Alfred Blake. IV.
Gold sponsors included 2017 HOF inductee, Council President, City of Newark, Mildred Crump; J. Michael and Carolyne Wright Hopkins, in support of honoree Ms. Rachael Ankrah-Fosu as well as the Camden Chancellor’ Office under the leadership of Chancellor Phoebe Haddon. Mr. Bobby Coney, a Rutgers alum and Lifetime member of RAAA lent his support as a Silver sponsor.
Since its inception, RAAA Hall of Fame has honored over 85 individuals primarily of African descent representing many corners of the world to include the United States, Anguilla, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Panama, Guyana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Nigeria. Please visit our website for the unabridged biographies of past and present Hall of Fame Inductees.
Nominations for the RAAA Hall of Fame are accepted year-round. The deadline for the 2019 Hall of Fame Induction is April 9, 2019. Mr. Paul Leroy Robeson will be inducted into the 2019 RAAA Hall of Fame posthumously. Please join us on Friday, April 12, 2019 as we continue to honor the legacy of Paul Robeson. RAAA led a very successful crowdfunding campaign to support the construction of the Paul Robeson Plaza. RAAA will stand with the Class of 1971 Milestone Committee during their dedication ceremony of the Class of 1971 Paul Robeson Plaza.
2018 Hall of Fame Inductees: