Nearly 200 black alumni reconnected in St. Louis, July 20-22, 2018. More than two-thirds of the participants graduated before Truman became an iteration of Northeast Missouri State, and most had not seen or heard from one another in decades. Throughout the Friday night welcome reception, changes in weight, dress or voice caused a minute of hesitation, but eventually the memories resurfaced.
Saturday morning, alumni of historically black Greek organizations gathered for the Pan-Hellenic Brunch. Two organizations celebrated milestone anniversaries and the historical distinctions of being the first black fraternity and sorority on campus: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., chartered Epsilon Eta Chapter in May 1963, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., chartered Zeta Zeta Chapter in May 1968. Seven of the 12 charter members of Zeta Zeta reunited with “line sisters” and met 45 of the young women who have followed in their footsteps.
On Saturday evening at the Reunion Celebration Banquet, alumni reminisced about “the good, and not so good, old days.” As a co-chair, Beverly Davis (’70) formally welcomed everyone and highlighted that when she graduated there were no co-ed dorms, no male students beyond the main lounge in the women’s dorm, and dorm hours for women but not men. Laughter filled the air. The younger alumni also learned about some of the challenges black students faced from the mid-fifties through the mid-seventies. Regardless of the collective challenges, it was noted and agreed that Truman’s continued commitment to educational excellence had contributed to everyone’s business and professional accomplishments.
During the banquet, Sharron Washington and Janice Sue Williams Burton were honored with a symbolic gesture. Thunderous applause and a standing ovation greeted them as the 2018 Homecoming King and Queen.
On Sunday, the final reunion activity was a picnic at Forest Park. Most missed the classmates who could not make the reunion and acknowledged those who are no longer here. Alumni celebrated the way they were, and perhaps most importantly, they celebrated who they have become.