UF Black Alumni weekend prepares to celebrate ‘dreams fulfilled’

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.

Friday is the deadline to register for the 2013 University of Florida Alumni Association Black Alumni Weekend celebration, which will include the honoring of southeast Gainesville residents U.S. District Judge Stephan P. Mickle and his wife Evelyn Mickle as pioneers.



What: 2013 UF Alumni Association Black Alumni Weekend.
When: Oct. 11-13.
Where: Various campus venues.
Cost: $50-$115.
Registration: Call 352-392-7619 or email slynn@ufalumni.ufl.edu by 5 p.m. Friday.
Information: Call 392-1905 or visit www.uflalumni.ufl.edu.

Terry Nealy, president of the UF Association of Black Alumni, said all of the events to be held in Gainesville from Oct. 11-13, though most cost to attend, are open to the public. He said people should register by calling Shirley Lynn at 352-392-7619 by 5 p.m. Friday or by emailing slynn@ufalumni.ufl.edu. The registration cost is $75 for members of the UF Alumni Association and $115 for nonmembers, which includes a one-year membership in the UFAA. It is $50 for UFAA members who graduated from UF in the past four years or less, and $75 years for nonmembers, which includes a one-year membership into the UFAA.

The theme for this year's weekend is "Gator Nation Celebrating Dreams Fulfilled" in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.

"What is significant about this year's event is that it coincides with the 50th year of Dr. King's ‘I Have a Dream Speech,' so we are tying in the celebration of that with Black Alumni Weekend," Nealy said. "Many of the people who were the first to graduate from the medical school, first to graduate from the dental school, first to graduate from the nursing school and the athlete who just got the gold medal at the Olympics last year, many of these black alumni are achieving dreams, and that is what Dr. King's dream was all about."

The highlight of the weekend will be the BAW Celebrating Dreams Fulfilled Dinner from 7-9:30 p.m. Oct 11 in the UF Hilton Ballroom at 1714 SW 34th St.

Below is a list of other highlights during the weekend:

Oct. 10: From 7-10 p.m., a night of comedy at Emerson Alumni Hall at 1938 W. University Ave. featuring Sean G (Meet the Browns), Barry S. Naylor and hosted by Cameron "Scooter" McGruder. Tickets are $20 for students and $30 for others.

Oct. 11: At 8 a.m.: Golf at UF's Bostwick Golf Course at 655 Reitz Union Drive; 10 a.m.-noon, Young Alumni Career Resource Seminar and Tour at the Reitz Union Career Resource Center; 3-5 p.m., opening ceremonies (free and open to the public) at Emerson Hall and 10:30-midnight, spades party at UF Hilton Florida Room.

Oct. 12: At 8 a.m., golf outing at Bostwick Golf Course; 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Champagne Brunch and Martin Luther King Symposium at Reitz Union Grand Ballroom; 1-3 p.m., Alumni Athlete Recognition Program at Touchdown Terrace inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field; 3-5 p.m., class and organization reunions at Emerson Hall and the time has yet to be set for the Mardi Gras and tailgate watch party at Touchdown Terrace for the UF vs. LSU game.

Oct. 13: From 10-11 a.m., inspirational wrap-up and farewell at UF Hilton.

The Mickles said they are filled with joy to be among the pioneers being honored during the weekend. Stephan Mickle was one of seven blacks to integrate the undergraduate program at UF in 1962 and was the first black to get an undergraduate degree from UF when he graduated in 1965. Evelyn Mickle in 1967 became the first black to graduate from the University of Florida College of Nursing.

"I feel it is a part of the University of Florida history that has not been told or shared that much and hasn't received that much publicity, so I am grateful that this is the time that I will be able to share a little bit of my story, which began in 1965 when I was graduating from Hampton Junior College in Ocala, and they were looking for African American students to attend the college of nursing," Mickle said, adding that her experience at UF was bittersweet, with most of the sweet coming as a result of the love and encouragement she received from "African Americans working at Shands who encouraged me to hold on and hold out."

Stephan Mickle said he had a similar experience at UF.

"This is quite an honor of distinction for me," he said of being honored by the ABA. He said his experience at UF was unique because he was the only black person in all of his classes.

"I was in a totally white environment, and it was a very intriguing experience," he said.

The other pioneers who will be recognized are: Reuben Brigety and Earl Cotman, the first blacks to graduate from the UF medical school; Olympian Will Clay, who won the silver medal in the triple jump and the bronze medal in the long jump at the 2012 London Olympics; Alvin "AC" Cowins, a UF graduate who is now President of McCoy Federal Credit Union in Orlando; former UF football coach Doug Dickey, who made Don Gaffney the first black starting quarterback at UF; Gaffney; Darryl Perry, a UF graduate who is now a philanthropist with the Miracle of Life Foundation; Muriel Page, the first draft pick in the history of the Washington Mystics of the WNBA; Olympic track athlete Hazel Clark Riley; Olympian Christian Taylor, who won the gold medal in the triple jump in the 2012 London Olympics; Marvin Wells, the first black graduate to earn a degree in dentistry; and Stephen "Grump" Williams, the first black scholarship basketball player at UF.

Nealy, president of the ABA, said it is important to recognize the accomplishments of black UF alumni.

"We especially want people to come to our opening ceremonies, which is free and open to the public, of Oct. 11 to hear the stories of all of our pioneers," Nealy said.

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