TALLADEGA, Ala. (Nov. 2, 2017) – Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey joined officials in breaking ground on a museum that bears his name on the campus of his alma mater, Talladega College.
Dr. Harvey’s participation, including breaking ground for the future William R. Harvey Art Museum, was the keystone event at Talladega College’s Convocation, Homecoming and 150th anniversary celebration. Talladega College faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, state and city officials were all in attendance.
“Of all the accolades I have received over the years, this is by far the most honoring and humbling,” Dr. Harvey said.
Dr. Harvey contributed more than $1 million toward the project’s completion. The William R. Harvey Art Museum will give Talladega College’s renowned Amistad Murals a permanent home and will also house multiple rooms for staff and space for future art displays. The museum will house the historic Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals, a three panel mural valued at $50 million, depicting the famed 1839 slave revolt aboard the trading ship Amistad. The famous murals have been the subject of a five-year restoration project and have traveled across the country.
According to Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, it is the college’s goal to have the museum completed by the end of 2018.
“We can’t wait to unveil it to the public,” he said.
Additionally, Dr. Harvey served as the event’s guest of honor and speaker for the college’s sesquicentennial celebration inside DeForest Chapel, a speech that drew several standing ovations.
“Some of my fondest memories are of Talladega College,” Harvey said. “My professors and classmates helped make me who I am today.”
He said that his alma mater taught him that education is not merely textbooks, a syllabus and classroom time.
“My professors at Talladega College gave more than instruction. They taught us about life,” Dr. Harvey said. "They emphasized the importance of good character, good personal conduct -- along with a mastery of a particular academic subject.
A native of Brewton, Ala., Dr. Harvey began a long and illustrious career after graduating from Talladega College in 1961. After three years of active duty service as an officer in the Army, Dr. Harvey served first as an educator, then as an administrator. He earned a master’s degree from Virginia State University and his doctorate from Harvard. He became Hampton University’s 12th president in 1978.
One thing has rung true for Dr. Harvey throughout his life: give back generously to those who have poured themselves into him. That lesson was taught to him by his parents and strongly reinforced at Talladega College.
“We were taught that self-fulfillment did not reside in the immediate gratification of the appetite; the value of good health, family, honesty, decency, integrity and responsible personal behavior," Dr. Harvey said.
Dr. Harvey encouraged Talladega College students to promote a trait near to his heart: character development.
“Learning should never be static,” he said. “You must view the horizon not as a limit, but as an invitation. Remember to live richly by always finding ways to help your community. Talladega College built my life’s foundation, and I will forever be grateful. It’s always like coming home.”
Editor’s Note: Laci Braswell of the Daily Home contributed to this article.