As American Baptist College continues its journey On the Road to 100, with a focus on Historic Griggs Hall, the first building on the 54-acre campus, memories continue to exude love and joy.

The celebration honored those individuals who contributed to the renovation in 2015, when the age-old building was restored.  The contributors included: Rev. Dr. Julius Scruggs, former interim chair of the Board of Trustees of American Baptist College and retired president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., who was the Golden Honoree. Other honorees were President and Mrs. Forrest Harris, Rev. Martin Espinosa, Rev. John Tolbert Jr., Dr. Riggins Earl, Rev. James “Tex” Thomas, Rev. Davie Tucker, Dr. Jasper Brewster, Dr. Susie McClure and the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Dr. Jasper Brewster, Rev. James “Tex” Thomas, Dr. Forrest Harris, and Rev. Morris Tipton representing Rev. Dr. Julius Scruggs stand with their certificates for their contributions for Griggs Hall.

Each contributor, or their representative who was present, was presented a certificate and those who lived in the building will have a plaque mounted on the door of their room, including Congressman John Lewis, who lived in Room 206.  “This 97th Anniversary Celebration was impactful,” said Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College.  “This celebration was long overdue in some aspects, and right on time in others, because a promise made is a promise kept, as we journey on the Road to 100,” he added.

Ms. Linda Wynn (left), a noted scholar, with the Tennessee Historical Commission, assistant director of Markers, and professor at Fisk University was the keynote speaker.  She took the audience down memory lane from the individuals of whom the building was named to the current status of the historic building.  The building was named after father and son, Allen and Sutton Griggs. They were proud men and Sutton was outspoken about racial equality and civil rights in that period of 1925.  Sutton served as president of the school for one year.

Wynn said, “Griggs Hall Legacy of Activism must not be forgotten. But more than a passive remembrance is needed. Just like the mid-20th century needed warriors on the battlefield to fight against the injustices of racial segregation, voting rights, criminal, economic, and social injustices, warriors are need today more than ever. During the Modern Civil Rights Movement, civil wrongs could be abjugated in the courts and generally receive a fair hearing and outcome. Through legislation, policies could be introduced, and passed in the Congress to overcome injustices perpetrated upon the rights of African Americans, Women, and other avenged groups. Today, that path has become more complicated as members of legislative bodies on the local, state, and national levels appear determined to take America to a post-Reconstruction period. Remember, the songs of the movement, keep your eyes on the prize and refuse to be move. Be like that tree planted by the water, refused to be moved for you are fighting for the present and the future. The baton has been passed to you. Remember Griggs Hall’s legacy of activism and refuse to be moved.”

“We appreciate all those who gave unselfishly to the cause of the Griggs Hall renovation in 2015, and proud to honor them,” said Phyllis Qualls, vice president for Institutional Advancement.  “If any names were omitted, we would love to include them, so they may be recognized as well,” she added.


The American Baptist College Board of Trustees, Rev. Dr. Don Darius Butler and First Missionary Baptist Church, Huntsville; Citizens Bank; Fourth Capital Bank; Freeman-Webb;  R. C Matthews; Pastor Howard E. Jones, Jr., & Fairfield M. B. Church; and The Tennessee Tribune.