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Students advised to use 'minute' wisely during Founders' Day speech

By Jessica Lodge
On November 10, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 9, 2016) – State Rep. Patrick O. Jefferson, D-Arcadia, a Dillard alumnus (Class of  1990), encouraged students to use their “minute” as well as did former Dillard President Samuel DuBois Cook.

Jefferson was the featured speaker for Founders’ Day Convocation on Oct. 22 in Lawless Memorial Chapel, which marked the 148th anniversary of the university’s founding and commemorated the work of Cook, who served as president for 23 years and died May 29 at age 88. About 250 people attended.

Jefferson, who represents District 11 (including parts of Clairborne, Lincoln and Bienville parishes) wrapped his speech around the poem by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, who led Morehouse College for nearly three decades:

“I’ve only just a minute
Only 60 seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give an account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.”

“Samuel DuBois Cook was no myth,” said Jefferson. “He used his minute well. What will you do?”

Jefferson, who received the Samuel Dubois Cook-Benjamin E. Mays Award while at Dillard (the university’s highest honor), said Dillard is celebrating “not because Cook died but because he lived…Dr. Cook used his minute well…His contributions were enormous and far-reaching.”

And like Cook, Jefferson said, the Class of 2018, faculty and administrators must make that minute count; he urged the audience to “acknowledge who we are and whose we are: Embrace justice, equal opportunity and love of our fellow human being.”

“Acknowledge! Aspire! Arise!” said Jefferson, leading a chant of the words.

He also quoted Matthew 6:22 regarding the need for each graduate to do his or her part: “If the light in you be dark, Oh, what a darkness.”

Jefferson earned his bachelor’s degree in English and was class valedictorian. He earned a juiris doctorate from the Ohio State University. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the NAACP, Jefferson started in politics in high school as the last Senate page of the late U.S. Sen. Russell B. Long. He previously served as town attorney for Arcadia, a member of the Bienville Parish Police Jury and a former Southern University board member.

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