Matory entered the spotlight early last year when he wrote a motion stating that “the Faculty lacks confidence in the leadership of Lawrence H. Summers.” When his motion passed 218-185 last March, Matory told the media that for Summers, “there is no noble alternative for him but resignation”—a suggestion that Summers followed 11 months later.
But Nicole Laws ’06, president of ABHW said that Matory’s vocal criticism of Summers was not the reason he was honored at this year’s ceremony.
“Matory was chosen because of his willingness to reach beyond his own work and research,” Laws said.
Saturday’s ceremony also honored six undergraduates and one local high school student for their contributions to the black community.
The event’s purpose, Matory said, was “telling [honorees] they have done well, and encouraging them to do more.”
Each undergraduate recipient was honored by an ABHW speaker as well as a brief video presentation about their lives. Recipients were given a plaque praising their work as well as a $500 scholarship. Senior award winners briefly addressed those in attendance.
“Be truthful, be yourself, be humble,” said award recipient Lawrence E. Adjah ’06, the former president of the Black Students Association. “You don’t come here to fit a mold. You come here to make history.”
Adjah, Tracy T. “Ty” Moore II ’06, and Kwame Owusu-Kesse ’06 received the senior awards, while Jon E. Gentry ’07, Ofole Mgbako ’08, and Xavier Del Rosario ’09 received the class awards.
In addition, Ugo Nduaguba, a local senior at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury was granted the Black Men of Achievement Scholarship Award, which comes with a $1,000 stipend.
The ABHW also presented John Hope Bryant with the Vanguard Award, a tribute presented to a distinguished black male outside the Harvard Community who is “selfless, dedicated, and service oriented,” according to Tiffanye Threadcraft ’07. Past winners have included talk show host and philanthropist Montel Williams, journalist Kevin Powell, and news broadcaster Ed Gordon.
Bryant delivered a fiery keynote address, punctuated by the occasional “amen” from the audience, when he said that the black community should take up the challenge of eradicating the poverty that disproportionately afflicts its population.
“Life is 10 percent what life does to you, and 90 percent how you respond to it,” Bryant said. “It’s about choices—are you going to evolve or devolve, impress or depress?”
Bryant is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, America’s first non-profit social investment banking organization.