Honoring Annie Day Shepard


Last Tuesday I was invited to something called the 10:40 break in NCCU's Alfonso Elder Student Union. A nice woman from NCCU's Women's Center told me they were having a program honoring my relative Annie Day Shepard who was university founder Dr. James E. Shepard's wife. I agreed to attend, be recognized, and receive a gift as a relative of the Shepards. I've been to a few events like these in the past but, this was the first one where I was the sole representative for our family. And it was a lot of fun!

There was a DJ present spinning music that was the right blend of turned up and soulful. During "Before I Let Go," some of the students that were there formed a cha-cha slide line and invited myself and Jennifer from the women's center to join. We hopped in and tried our best to learn the moves which involved clapping twice in front of your feet, then behind your back, and then under your leg with it lifted in the air. I came close to getting it down but, in all honesty, the music ended before I was able to fully master the steps.

Following the bit of dancing, a scholar from the Annie Day Shepard Scholars Program spoke along with Miss NCCU, Jennifer from the women's center, and NCCU archivist and historian André Vann. I learned through all of their words that Annie Day Shepard played a key role in keeping the university afloat in the early days. She corresponded with donors and would pray with students if funds were tight, often resulting in more support and money coming through soon afterward. She also worked in the cafeteria when the university was short on staff or funds to pay the staff. In addition to all of this, she was the devoted wife and confidant of the man who served as the university's founder and its first chancellor. Women play vital and unfortunately, often overlooked parts in things we all benefit from.

I received a plant for the family and have it on display in our family home. I'm doing my best to keep it alive but, even if it doesn't make it, the pride in what the Shepards accomplished and my desire to contribute to the furtherance of their legacy will stay alive.