The NC State African American Cultural Center (AACC) is curating an original exhibit based on the lives and work of Dr. Lawrence M. Clark (1934-2012) and Dr. Augustus “Gus” Witherspoon (1920-1994). The exhibit opened on the evening of January 31, 2013 with a sizable crowd and included remarks and performances by the African American Cultural Center's own Toni Thorpe and students. The exhibit will be open through April 30, 2013. The exhibit title is inspired by the West African proverb that notes, “Until the lions have their own historians, the tales of the hunt will glorify the hunter.” The Writing the Lion’s Tale Exhibits tell the stories of African and African descent people, their cultures and our shared histories.
Augustus “Gus” Witherspoon received his doctorate in Botany in 1971, becoming the second African-American at NC State to earn a doctoral degree. After joining the university faculty in 1970 as an instructor, Dr. Witherspoon eventually earned the rank of full professor. He also served as Assistant Dean, Acting Dean and Associate Dean of the Graduate School. As Associate Provost, Dr. Witherspoon also served as the Coordinator of African-American Affairs. The Augustus Witherspoon Student Center (formerly the Student Center Annex) was named in his honor in 1995. Currently, it is the only building on campus named after person of African descent.
Dr. Lawrence M. Clark joined North Carolina State University in 1974 serving in a dual role as Associate Provost and as a full time professor in the College of Education. He also coordinated all activities related to the University’s Affirmative Action Plan and from 1995-2000. Dr. Clark led the change in the culture of diversity at NC State. As former Provost Nash Winstead noted, Dr. Clark was “one of the most valuable and consistent forces in making progress in equal opportunity at NCSU...” He established academic and cultural programs in Ghana, Togo, Ethiopia, and Benin. Dr. Clark also established a series of workshops for NC State faculty and staff, working with Dr. C.T. Vivian to confront barriers to social and racial equality.
Dr. Clark and Dr. Witherspoon were the founding fathers of the African American Cultural Center, the Peer Mentor Program, the African American Symposium, and many more significant initiatives still in place today. The programs, initiatives and partnerships they established not only changed the culture of NC State, but they continue to be relevant today.
The exhibit is funded, in part, by the 125th Anniversary Planning Committee.