Statement by President Todd on Congressman John Lewis

Office of the President

The Denmark Technical College family mourns the loss of Congressman John Lewis whose passing was announced this morning following the equally painful loss of Rev. C.T. Vivian earlier in the day on Friday; both men were champions of the Civil Rights Movement in our country. As President of a historically black institution, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the import of their loss and, more importantly, the impact of their lives not only on our beloved Denmark Technical College but across our country and around the globe. President John F. Kennedy remarked in his 1961 inaugural address that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and I believe those words are appropriate today as we reflect on our current society and environment and recognize that as these giants of civil rights pass they leave behind a legacy of sacrifice, of giving, of challenging, and championing; preparing those who must carry the “torch” forward.
As professionals in the field of higher education, whether we work as an instructor in the classroom or as an academic counselor, fiscal technician, or administrative assistant, we too play an incredibly important role in giving, challenging, and preparing the students we serve – many of whom represent that generation to whom the torch has been passed. As you reflect on the lives of Congressmen Lewis, Rev. Vivian, and Rev. Dr. Joseph T. Lowery, often referred to as “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement, who passed earlier this year, I challenge you to recognize how the singular lives of these individuals helped shape the destiny of so many and in such a powerful and positive way. Indeed, if not for the likes of these men who marched alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for whom our beloved King Hall is named in honor, and many others – men, women, black and white – South Carolina Area Trade School which is now Denmark Technical College, might well not exist today.
I was blessed to sit in the presence of each of these giants and am a better person because of their impact. Let us mourn their loss and be inspired by their lives to impact social justice and fulfill our mission to change generations in the future.
“Well done thy good and faithful servants.”
Prayerfully forging onward for a better tomorrow!
Willie L. Todd, Jr., Ph.D. | President and Chief Executive Officer