From left, Dougherty County Commission Chair Jeff Sinyard and Albany Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike listen as Annette Jones White, a former Miss Albany State College, addresses ASU students, alumni, faculty and staff at the institution's homecoming convocation Friday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- At the time Annette Jones White was a Albany State College freshman in 1958, when the cost of tuition was $56 a quarter, she went there knowing she had to do something to make the world different.
Maintaining that mindset came at a price, which her alma mater has since repaid.
White, a former Miss ASC, was the speaker Friday morning at Albany State University's homecoming convocation in the school's HPER Gym.
White was crowned Miss ASC in 1961 -- a title that was soon taken from her after she was arrested for participating in a civil rights protest with some of her classmates.
"As college queen, I felt I could use my leadership position to address issues," she recalled. "I felt I had to set an example to my fellow students and fight against discrimination, and I thought (the institution) would be supportive."
She was suspended and ordered to repay her Miss ASC scholarship money. She also lost a graduate fellowship.
Throughout it all, she never second guessed herself.
"I never felt my actions were wrong. I only regret the college did not support us," she said. "All of us who had been suspended or expelled have been waiting a long time to be invited back.
"I've never been bitter. I've been hurt, but never bitter."
She even maintained a loyalty to Albany State despite what happened.
"That hurt did not stop me from donating to Albany State; I remained committed to the college," White said. "Even so, I felt like an outsider.
That's no longer true.
"My fellow students and I are able to find closure."
Part of this has to do with the fact that the university did more than just invite her back. White was recently re-crowned by current Miss ASU Ali'Yah Arnold.
"The fact that we are still here today intact is a testament," said White while concluding her remarks. "Long live ASU."
White, an Albany native, eventually continued her education at Spelman College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English in 1964. She went on to earn a master's degree in early childhood education from Virginia State University.
"The year 1961 was a year of challenges and possibilities," said University President Everette Freeman before White took the stage. "It is fitting that we come to recognize the fruits of our labor from 1961.
"Had (White) chosen the road of silence, we don't know what would have been of ASU. (The group she protested with) made the world different for what they have done."
For many, homecoming is a time not only for alumni to come back -- but to also re-establish lost connections.
"We teach for years and years, and we put our hearts and souls into it -- and then the students leave," said ASU Faculty Senate President Glenn Zuern. "We never get to see the fruits of our labor.
"It's great when alumni come back because we get to see the fruits of our labor. From the looks of it, ASU has grown some mighty fruit."
Homecoming festivities will continue today with the parade at 9 a.m., and the game against Miles College at 2 p.m.