Building the Future, plus cake!
By Craig Brandhorst, 803-777-3681
When the University of South Carolina desegregated in fall 1963, the doors of opportunity finally opened to all South Carolinians, regardless of race. Now, as part of the ongoing 50th-anniversary commemoration of that landmark event, the university has invited several prominent African-American alumni to the Russell House Feb. 11 to talk about their time at USC and their careers, and also to inspire the next generation.
Sponsored by the USC Alumni Association, the Black Alumni Council, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Association of African-American Students and USC Student Government, the panel discussion entitled Building the Future will feature Civil Rights-era pioneers alongside present-day movers, shakers and entrepreneurs.
To give some historical perspective, USC’s first African-American student body president, Harry Walker, ’72, ’74 master’s, will be joined by high-profile Columbia attorney Luther J. Battiste III, ’71, who masterminded Walker’s campus campaign and went on to enjoy a series of his own professional successes after graduation.
According to Battiste, he and Walker will discuss the African-American campus experience in the tumultuous era immediately following the university’s desegregation, how the two former classmates managed to change the university from the inside out and how the university has continued to change for the better over the past five decades.
“I drive through the USC campus every day on my way to work and I comment to myself just how much things have changed, how much better they are, and not just for the African-American students but in terms of diversity in general.”
Attendees can expect a different brand of inspiration from entrepreneur Elizabeth Pou, ’81, who bills herself as the High Heel Homemaker because, as she puts it, “I’m only 5’2’’ but I want to be 5’4”, and I can only be that tall in my pumps.”
A former account executive with Discover Card, Pou switched gears and embraced her creative side following a large-scale company downsize in the late 1990s. Now, she manages several related businesses, including a clothing line and an event planning service.
Pou might be best known to Gamecock fans, however, for the High Heel Homemaker Café, a dessert and snack vending operation launched in 2006. Her custom cakes, pimento cheese and chicken salad croissants are now enjoyed by fans at all home football and baseball games.
“If you work for yourself, whether you’re an artist, a writer or a contractor, you need to figure out what you’re worth,” she says. “Or, you need to find a way to make yourself valuable. And that’s what I did.”
Other alumni panelists include: Paul Livingston, '74, '78 master’s, president of 100 Black Men of Greater Columbia; Jermaine T. Britton, '96, from Ventyx Inc.; Teresa Wilson, '96, '99 law, city manager of the City of Columbia; and S. Malik Husser, '00, former executive director of the Democratic National Committee.
Russell House ballroom, Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM. Click for details.
Visit the My Carolina Alumni Association website to read more about Elizabeth Pou, '81.
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