Lorenzo Heard, pastor of Greater Second Mt. Oliver Baptist Church, praised Albany State University founder Joseph Holley’s faith in himself and in God during the university’s annual Founder’s Day Celebration Friday morning.
ALBANY -- In 1903, Joseph Holley had a vision to establish a school for blacks in the Deep South. This vision produced the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute, which eventually evolved into Albany State University.
On Friday, the school celebrated Holley's vision during its annual Founder's Day Celebration.
"My father had the audacity of hope," Holley's daughter, Josephine Holley-Jefferson, told the crowd gathered at ASU's ACAD Auditorium. "He was going to build a school come hell or high water. Well, the water came -- twice, but Albany State came back bigger, better and stronger each time."
Holley-Jefferson was just one of many speakers who lauded the founder.
"We are all put on this earth for a purpose and the ability to distinguish average from great all depends on what we do," Kenneth Cutts, Rep. Sanford Bishop's District Director said. "And thousands of people across the world are the beneficiaries of the purpose of Dr. Holley."
Holley remained the school's president for 40 years until stepping down in 1943. Over that span the school became part of the University System of Georgia and during Holley's final year at the helm was granted four-year status and renamed Albany State College.
"Joseph Winthorp Holley was a Christian and a teacher," Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said. "He built a institution on a strong Christian foundation. I salute our founder this morning for making that the foundation of what would become the unsinkable Albany State University."
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said the thinks Holley would be pleased with where his vision is today.
"If he (Holley) were here right now he'd take a look around at the buildings, the facilities and the brick and mortar and say 'Wow!'" Sinyard said. "But if he could see today's ASU students, I think that is the sight that would move his heart the most."
Keynote speaker Lorenzo Heard, pastor at Greater Second Mount Olive Baptist Church, lauded Holley's faith in himself and in his God.
"God will be for us in more than the world against us if we have faith." Heard said. "If we have faith all things are possible; if we have no faith, we limit ourselves. Joseph Holley had faith, and that is why his dream is still alive today."
Holley died in 1955 and was buried in front of ASU's L. Orene Hall Building.
Holley-Jefferson, along with Miss ASU Neshazda Brown and ASU SGA President Clarence Washington, completed the day's celebrations by laying a wreath at her father's grave.