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OU recruitment conferences honor legacies of university's African-American trailblazers

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McLaurin

George McLaurin sits segregated from white students in 1948 classroom at OU.

More than 200 high school students will attend an annual OU conference this weekend focused on minority student recruitment and retention.

The fourth annual George McLaurin and Sylvia A. Lewis Leadership Initiative conference will run April 28 to April 30. The opening session of the conference will be held at 6 p.m. in Catlett Music Hall on April 28, according to a packet from the Office of University Community.

D'Andre Fisher, special assistant to Jabar Shumate, vice president for the university community, and Trey Moore, associate director for diversity enrichment programs, founded the conference in 2014, according to the packet.

"(The conference) is the flagship program for us to be able to do what we've been doing, which is see us recruit and retain the largest class of African-American students, Latino students, and underrepresented students on our campus," Shumate said.

During the conference, students will tour various colleges within the university and attend informative sessions. Several state legislators, an incoming law student who overcame homelessness and OU faculty and staff will lead the sessions the first two days of the conference, according to the itinerary. The conference will end on April 30 with a scholarship and awards breakfast. 

Spencer Tillman, a former OU and NFL running back, will deliver the keynote address April 28.

“He has given so much to the university when it comes to his time and talent, but he has a story, a motivational story, like no other,” Fisher said. “From being a student athlete here … to now we see him on Sundays … for our students to see that somebody like Spencer Tillman can come from the University of Oklahoma and be where he’s at now in life, really is inspirational to us all.”

The conference was named after George McLaurin, who was OU's first African-American student, and Sylvia A. Lewis, who was an award-winning educator and administrator and the first African American to serve on OU's Board of Regents, according to the Office of University Community's website.

January 23, the conference launched a Thousands Strong campaign, which raised $9,535 to help cover its costs. To learn more about the conference, visit the Office of University Community's website.

Hannah Pike is a professional writing and economics senior. She is a freelance reporter, who was previously a senior news reporter covering the administration. Last summer, she interned on the business desk for The Oklahoman.

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