- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

Howard University officials yesterday celebrated the 140th anniversary of the university’s founding at the school’s annual Charter Day convocation.

“Howard University was and continues to be the place that removes the obstacles to many of our dreams,” said school President H. Patrick Swygert.

The convocation ceremony was a prelude to the historically black university’s Charter Day dinner tonight, during which five persons will be honored for their achievements.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat who graduated from the Howard University School of Law, is scheduled to be honored for his political work.

“It is exciting and more than a little humbling to accept this award and follow in the footsteps of Thurgood Marshall, Spottswood Robinson and Walter Washington,” Mr. Fenty said. “Howard is where I laid the groundwork for my political career and I look forward to seeing what the next 140 years holds for Howard University.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett will also be honored for his work in education and government.

“The struggle we have waged has been educational to be sure, for nothing is more uplifting to a people than to light the lamp of learning,” Mr. Leggett, a Democrat, said during yesterday’s events.

Mr. Leggett urged black youth to strive for a broader effect in politics, saying blacks should extend their civic engagement beyond their own communities.

“For the most part, what we have accomplished is to simply maximize the African-American vote in African-American communities where we are the majority,” he said. “This is well and good, but this achievement … is insignificant for our long-term political survival.”

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell praised Howard University’s role in producing highly trained black professionals.

Among the other honorees at tonight’s dinner will be Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, a Democrat; William R. Martin, head of the White Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel A. Wilkerson.

Howard University’s charter was enacted by Congress in 1867. The school was named for Gen. Oliver O. Howard, a Civil War hero who was both a founder of the university and commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau.

Alumni of the university include Mr. Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice; Edward Brooke, the first black U.S. senator since Reconstruction; and Sharon Pratt Kelly, the District’s first black female mayor.

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