Griffin Withdraws Without a Fight-Skegee Alumni Angry

March 18, 2018 2 By Michael

Tuskegee University, the pride of the Swift Growing South.
Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

Floyd Griffin withdrew his attempt to replace John page as chairman of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees. His withdrawal left Skegee Alumni angry.

Griffin had promised to bring transparency to the board and to open up board meetings to members of the Skegee Alumni.

Skegee alumni rallied around Griffin in his desire to become chairman of the board of Trustees. They argued that Skegee was the only elite HBCU that did not have an alumnus as head of its board.

Today, Skegee still does not have a graduate as its chairperson. This honor remains with John Page, a graduate of two Historically White Institutions.

The alumni push for an alumnus as chair fell on deaf ears as members of the board were not in the mood to entertain the alumni position during lobbying efforts the first day of the Board’s spring meeting last week.

In a conversation with construction magnet H. Jerome Russell, CEO of H. J. Russell & Company the Skegee alumni were notified that there was no reason why an alumnus should be the chair of the board.

Russell is an alumnus of Georgia State University. He was asked to name the chairman of the GSU board of trustees. He could not name his alma mater’s chairperson.

Georgia public colleges and universities do not have boards of trustees. They are governed by the Board of Regent. But GSU does have a Foundation and Deepak Raghavan a 2009 graduate of GSU is the Chairman of the Georgia State University Foundation. Of the 41 members on the board, 25 are graduates. Tuskegee alumni numbers do not come anywhere close to GSU’s alumni representation on its board.

Russell acknowledged he was only on the board because his father the late Herman J. Russell, a Skegee alumni, had served on the board. He said he was reluctant to vote against Page because Page had brought him onto the board.

“I counted the noses,” Griffin, a veteran of Georgia politics said, “and the votes simply were not there. So I decided to withdraw before a vote was taken.”

Several alumni said they were not satisfied with either Griffin’s withdrawal or the outcome of the Trustees re-election of John Page.

According to several prominent alumni, since they were unable to get the ear of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees, they will seek to get the attention of Golden State Food Corporation, where John Page is employed as Senior Corporate Vice President, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility and Legal Officer.

The group is exploring a nationwide boycott and social media campaign against products distributed by Golden State Food Corp., until Page steps down as chair of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees.

Golden State Food Shipping Truck

Golden States Foods is a major supplier of meat and buns for McDonald’s. Photo from the internet

GSF supplies meat and liquid products like ketchup and mustard to McDonalds and through a joint venture with Mid-South Bakery in Bryan, Texas supplies buns that are used by McDonald’s for its hamburgers.

Given the absence of nutritional value, McDonald’s is an easy target. Drive down the sales of quarter pounders and GSF has fewer beef patties and buns to distribute.

Mark S. Wetterau, Chair and CEO of the $50 billion company can expect to receive a deluge of letters bearing the tenor of those submitted to the Tuskegee Board detailing their dislike of Page and the intimation of threats he has made to alumni with his reference that he grew up in Brooklyn.

Soon Page will have to decide whether he likes his job more than he like being chair of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees, especially, given the fact, that a large contingent of alumni do not like him as their board chair.

One member added that Trustees like Russell should be placed on notice that a similar boycott of their business interests maybe the price they will have to pay to keep Skegee alumni locked out of the process of helping to maintain the legacy of the Pride of the Swift Growing South.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com