Roland M. Carter ’64 Receives the 2024 Presidential Citizenship Award as Finance Trailblazer Alumna Bestows $10K and Inspires Students at “Majestic” 131st Founder’s Day

On the Newly Dedicated Dr. Roland M. Carter Stage in Ogden Hall

In an electric 131st Founders Day, celebrating the “majesty” of Hampton University, a packed house watched emotionally as the highly acclaimed music aficionado, Dr. Roland M. Carter was honored with awards and the namesake of the Robert C. Ogden Hall’s stage, which is now the Dr. Roland M. Carter Stage.

This year’s Founder’s Day, an annual celebration of HU’s founder, Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, was unlike any other, as Armstrong’s grandson, Arthur Howell, helped HU President Darrell K. Williams mark the occasion during a commemorative wreath-placing ceremony.

Finance trailblazer Alumna Racquel Oden ‘98, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC Bank USA, presented the University with a gift of $10K, and gave a fiery keynote, encouraging students to be life-long learners and to become mentors and advocates, helping others to succeed.

“Each of you stand on the shoulders of giants, said Oden. “Your job is to advocate for not only you, your University, but the community as a whole.

“Your hunger for knowledge cannot stop when you leave this institution,” said Oden. “You have to have a thirst for knowledge which will allow you to outperform and compete. When others have slowed down and are settling. That is not what you will be doing.

“Let’s remember that it’s your grit that overcomes obstacles, your grind that elevates you, your grace that defines you and your gratitude that grounds you. As Hamptonians, you are the embodiment of those values.”

Ogden Hall was full of emotion, heavenly voices, and thunderous applause from those who traveled from all over the country to honor the living legend, Roland M. Carter. Taking in the moment, President Williams marveled at the “majesty of Hampton.”

“It is with immense pride and joy that we mark this momentous occasion in the rich history of Hampton University,” said President Williams. “We unveil the Dr. Roland M. Carter stage in our esteemed Ogden Hall. This stage was once graced by the likes of the Count Basie Orchestra, Maya Angelou, Ozzie Davis and Rubie Dee to the cinematic brilliance of Spike Lee. This stage has been a campus for cultural excellence.” The Alvin Ailey dance theater and the Virginia Symphony have recently graced the stage, along with the critically acclaimed Taraji P. Henson, and countless others.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Carter conducted a portion of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” with the HU Choir, with students and alumni performing, and was recognized as the 2024 Presidential Citizenship Award recipient, received an honorary doctorate degree and watched in awe at the unveiling of the Dr. Roland M. Carter stage in Ogden Hall.

“Dr. Roland M. Carter has given unselfishly, to enrich the lives of those around him and to improve our collective community, and the world,” said President Williams. “He has made significant contributions to our community and to all humanity.”

President Williams referred to Carter as the “great, modern Hampton maestro,” having “impacted the lives of thousands with his work, drawing crowds to immerse themselves in unforgettable musical experiences, elevating the HU Minister’s Conference Choir Guild’s performances to captivating heights for over 40 years,” in addition to serving 25 years of leadership to HU.

Having received innumerable honors and awards from schools and institutions across the country, Carter, an HU alumnus class of ‘64, explained that these awards from Hampton, moved him differently, citing lyrics from the HU alma mater.

“No one can ever know, to come full circle and be home [and be honored]. ‘O Hampton, we never can make thee a song, except as our lives do the singing.’”