Howard Trustee Hails University For Charting Excellence For Black America

President of Howard University Wayne Fredrick, left, greets convocation speaker Leslie Hale, center, while chairman of the board of trustees Stacey Mobley looks on. Photo by Howard University.

By Journey Rucker, NewsVision and T’Keyah Hayes, Howard University News Service

Washington, D.C.– Howard University alumna and board of trustee member Leslie D. Hale highlighted the impact of the university on her life and the black community in her convocation address at the 153rd Charter Day Convocation last Friday.

“In hindsight, we can clearly see the university, the charter, gave birth to seismically shift the way that Black Americans contribute to and function in society,” Hale said. “The founding of Howard made an audacious statement to this nation. It declared that African-Americans are determined, ambitious, and knowledgeable,” the 2020 President’s Award of Achievement recipient said. 

Hale’s speech posed the question of whether the founders of the university understood the impact that would be felt for 153 years in the signing of the charter.

Hale, the president and chief executive officer of RLJ Lodging Trust (RLJ), a leading hotel real estate investment, graduated from Howard University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance. Hale also serves on the board of directors for Macy’s Inc. 

“There are no words to adequately describe how much it means to me to be here today, and how special this moment is,” Hale tells the crowd in her tearful address. “As I was getting dressed, my mother was helping put on my robe. As she was zipping it up, the tears rolled down her face; and in that moment, that’s all I needed to understand how important today is,” she said.

The convocation celebrates Bison yearly with presentations of awards in a number of different fields. The 2020 Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement Award Recipients included Dr. Dereje Agonafer in the field of engineering, Stanley R. Verrett in the field of journalism, and The Honorable Tanya M. Walton-Pratt in the fields of law and public service. The Introduction of the Larue V. Barkwell Capstone Distinguished Service Award was received by Ms. Odessa W. Scott.

The traditional Charter Day Convocation rejoices in the university’s founding, legacy, and existence. 

“Together we aim to impact the community around us, and make this world just and inclusive–one step at a time.” Howard University’s Interim President Wayne A.I. Frederick said.