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Howard University Celebrates 139th Anniversary with Charter Day Convocation and Dinner

Howard University Celebrates 139th Anniversary
with Charter Day Convocation and Dinner

Suzanne de Passe, de Passe Entertainment, to Deliver Charter Day Address

Washington, D.C., March 2, 2006 – Howard University’s 139th Charter Day Convocation will be held Friday, March 3, at 11 a.m. in Cramton Auditorium with Suzanne de Passe, chairperson and chief executive officer, de Passe Entertainment, as keynote speaker, who began her career at Motown Records as creative assistant to company founder Berry Gordy and rose to the position of president of Motown Productions. Charter Day commemorates the signing of the University’s charter, which was enacted by Congress and subsequently approved by President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867.  Charter Day events celebrate the University’s critical role and rich legacy of producing Leadership for America and the Global Community. 

Charter Day Convocation proceedings will be broadcast live on Howard University’s WHUR-96.3 FM and WHUT-TV, the first African-American-owned public television station in the nation.

During the 82nd Annual Charter Day Gala at the Hilton Washington and Towers Hotel on Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m.(VIP Reception at 6 p.m.), the University will honor Potomac Electric Power Company with the 2006 Corporate Award and honor five alumni for outstanding contributions in their respective fields: Dr. Joseph E. Harris, in the fields of Education and International Studies; The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, in the fields of Law and Public Service; Mr. Kenneth L. Lattimore, in the field of Entertainment; Dr. Accie M. Mitchell, in the fields of Medicine and Community Service; and Mr. George S. Willie, in the fields of Business and Community Service.  Distinguished opera singer Jessye Norman will perform during the gala.

Dr. Joseph E. Harris is a preeminent scholar, world-renowned expert on Africa, Howard University Distinguished Professor of History emeritus, lecturer, and author. He created the field of study known as the African diaspora and has championed that diaspora across time and geography. His substantial scholarship and research, the vast breadth of his contacts across the globe, and his ability to forge linkages are the hallmarks of his stellar career.

In 1993, the Howard University Board of Trustees designated Dr. Harris as a Distinguished Professor which elevated him to the highest academic rank that the University bestows, and acknowledged his sterling reputation as the leading expert on the exploration of the African diaspora. Through his teachings and ongoing scholarship, which includes the African Diaspora Map Series, he has helped erase prejudices about Africa and its people, and helped to reform the attitude that the study of African history is not as legitimate as the study of European or American history.

After attending public schools in his native Rocky Mount, North Carolina and spending one year at Hampton Institute, he transferred to Howard University. Called to serve time in the Army as a second lieutenant in the Korean War, he returned to Howard, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Master of Arts degree. He later received his Ph.D. degree in African History from Northwestern University.

While on the faculty of New York State University at New Paltz, he attended the conference of the International Congress of African Historians in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and conducted a panel on the African diaspora, primarily discussing the Atlantic slave trade.  He raised questions about the East African slave trade and what had happened to the descendents of those slaves.  His first book, The African Presence in Asia: Consequences of the East African Slave Trade (Northwestern University Press, 1971), addresses those questions and is still viewed as the pioneering effort that has encouraged world scholars to further investigate the subject. His second book, Africans and Their History, first published in 1972, with a revised second edition in 1998, is a landmark work that reconstructs Africa’s past, shedding light on the accomplishments of the advanced cultures in the early kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. It is used all over the world and is a recognized University text. He has published eight books to date, as well as more than fifty articles which penetrate the myths and shatter the stereotypes about Africans and their achievements, and reveals a remarkable historical and global legacy.

At Howard, he organized two international conferences that served as the impetus for developing and legitimizing the field of African diaspora studies within the academic community worldwide. Since 1999, he has served as Director of the South African Research and Archival Project—which documents the African-American involvement in the struggle against apartheid, and he has laid the foundation so students and scholars can continue the work. The reference guides, produced on CD-ROM, along with the website, direct other researchers to the resources and information needed to build their own bodies of work.   

He continues to break new ground with his revolutionary work on the creation of a National Slavery Museum with Virginia’s history-making Governor L. Douglas Wilder, currently Mayor of Richmond.

The Honorable Kamala D. Harris was elected District Attorney of San Francisco on December 9, 2003. Her election is historic on many fronts:  the first woman to serve as District Attorney in San Francisco; the first African-American woman to serve as District Attorney in California; and the first Indian-American woman to serve as District Attorney in the United States. 
Inaugurated on January 8, 2004, she pledged to redouble efforts to combat violent crime and protect San Francisco neighborhoods, place a top priority on professionalizing the Office and improve the juvenile justice system.  The election as San Francisco District Attorney was her first run for public office.

A veteran prosecutor with 13 years of courtroom experience, she has dedicated her outstanding legal talents to combating violent crime and the sexual exploitation of children. She works creatively to improve the quality of life in our communities.  
She was born in Oakland and raised in Berkeley, California. Her parents, both professors, were active in the Civil Rights Movement and instilled in her a strong commitment to justice and public service. This commitment led her to Howard University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in 1986. She then attended Hastings College of the Law, where she received her juris doctor degree.

As Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County from 1990 to 1998, she prosecuted hundreds of serious and violent felonies, including homicide, rape, and child sexual assault cases. Before Louise Renne recruited her to join the City Attorney’s office in August 2000, she was the Managing Attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the office of the San Francisco District Attorney.
Throughout her career, she has made youth and children a priority. She was one of the few prosecutors in California to stand up against Proposition 21, which has forced more young people unnecessarily into prison. Currently, she is spearheading a public-private task force that is pushing San Francisco to confront the growing problem of teen-age prostitution.
Her many community activities include: Co-Chair of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights; President of the Board of Directors of Partners Ending Domestic Abuse; elected member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bar Association; and founder of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art mentoring program, which has served hundreds of young people from the inner city.
She has been recognized many times for the excellence of her work, including receipt of an award from Crime Victims United for work on behalf of youths, and designation by the 1998 Daily Journal as one of the top 20 young lawyers in the State of California. Most recently, she earned an award from the County Counsel Association of California for her work on granting gay couples equal rights in child adoption cases.

Mr. Kenneth “Kenny” L. Lattimore was born in Washington, DC, and became a music aficionado at an early age, and performed publicly throughout his high school years at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland.  He attended Howard University (one of his musical idols, Donny Hathaway, had spent three years at Howard), where he studied architecture. Music was always his passion and, after leaving Howard, he joined the group Maniquin, and recorded one album in the late 1980s.  He left the group in 1990 and became a popular writer for other soul artists, including Glenn Jones and Jon Lucien.

His dream to become a solo artist came true when he signed with Sony and, in 1996, released Kenny Lattimore, with an A-List of producers and musicians.  The wonderful Kipper Jones composition, Never Too Busy, was a Soul Top 20 hit with a terrific mid-tempo number that recalled the best Bobby Caldwell cuts from the 1980s.  He followed it up with the ever-popular wedding ballad, For You. He was nominated for a Grammy that year for Best Male R&B Artist.
He took songwriting control over his next album, From the Soul of a Man, which was a much more personal album.  He was influenced by the introspective, soulful music of Donny Hathaway, and even included a cover of a Hathaway favorite, I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know.  The album was a superior effort and one of the better urban adult contemporary albums of the year. 

In 2001, he married top recording artist Chante Moore, and they immediately began working on an album of duets.  The idea was to personalize some of the great pop and soul ballads of the past three decades, including the Billy Preston and Syreeta classic With You I'm Born Again, Rene and Angela's You Don't Have To Cry, and Clint Black and Lisa Hartman's When I Said I Do, along with a couple of new  compositions.  The result, Things That Lovers Do, became a hit album, charting the Top 5 Soul and Top 40 Pop, and led to a popular national tour and stage play. After the greatest hits compilation in 2004, he returned in 2005 with Uncovered.

Dr. Accie M. Mitchell began his elementary school education in San Francisco and attended the prestigious Lowell High School, where he was one of four African-American students. His academic strengths were quickly recognized by the teachers and administrators, as was his tenacity and willingness to question the status quo. After graduation, he attended the University of San Francisco and received his Bachelor of Science from San Francisco State University in 1960.
He was accepted into the Howard University College of Medicine and, in August 1961, took the long train ride from California to Washington, DC. As a struggling student he succeeded in overcoming the difficult challenges of financing his education with the most able assistance of Mrs. Runners in Dean Robert Jason’s office. 

After graduation from medical school, he returned to California where he completed his internship at Queen of Angels Hospital and his residency at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital under the mentorship of the preeminent Dr. Leroy Weekes, who offered space for him in his medical complex.

Early in his practice, Dr. Mitchell set his sights on a medical office building, the Florence Western Medical Clinic, where he hoped to relocate in the future.  In the aftermath of the Watts riots and the flight of the majority population from the inner-city, in 1970, he took a bold step and purchased the building with the hope that his practice would support the acquisition.  Today, he is seeing third generation patients at Florence Western Medical Clinic, which serves more than 5,000. Community service and outreach are a major focus of his clinic, where he provides low-cost physical examinations to student athletes and mentors college-bound high school students.

In 1997, he organized Community Family Care, IPA (CFC), an Independent Physicians Association created to ensure that patients in the underserved areas of Los Angeles would continue to have access to quality medical care with the advent of Health Maintenance Organizations. CFC now has over 150 physicians, in all specialties, serving over 15,000 patients in the poorest communities of Los Angeles County.

Dr. Mitchell is a founding member of the National Sickle Cell Disease Research Foundation, and has testified before Congress about the need for research funding.  He is a member of the National Medical Association, Los Angeles Urban League and NAACP; a founding member of the Los Angeles Guardsmen; a former board member of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities; and a strong supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Mr. George S. Willie is the managing partner of Bert Smith & Co. and has over 30 years of public accounting experience. He has substantial experience in the audits of federal, state, and local governments, not-for-profit, and healthcare and private sector organizations. His professional memberships include: the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); AICPA Benevolent Fund; AICPA Financial Accounting and Reporting Subcommittee; and AICPA Accounting Research Association, Inc. He also serves on the U.S. Government Accountability Office Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards, and the Board of Visitors for the Howard University School of Business. He has been an At-Large member of the AICPA Council and has served on various AICPA committees, including: Board of Examiners-CPA Examinations; Minority Initiatives (chairman); Nominations; PCPS Executive; and the Group of 100.  He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia and the Board of Governors of the Greater Washington Society of CPAs.

He has been a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. (NABA) since 1974. He is the past chairman of the Division of Firms (the association of the African American-owned accounting firms in the United States), and has received numerous awards from NABA for his contributions to the professional development of young accountants.

He has testified before various regulatory and legislative bodies on many significant accounting and auditing issues and a frequent speaker at numerous forums on the challenges confronting the accounting profession. He was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners” by the CPA Magazine, and Accounting Today has previously given him a similar recognition.

He is a former assistant professor of accounting at Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Howard University and earned a Master of Business Administration degree in finance from the American University.

Howard University is one of 48 U.S. private, Doctoral/Research-Extensive universities and comprises 12 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, 13 Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at


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