Keynote Speaker - DR. LILLIE W. MCCAIN
As a teenager growing up in Teoc, Miss. during the civil rights movement, Dr. Lillie McCain felt the urge to get involved. She had witnessed the activism of her father, a World War II veteran and descendant of slaves held at a plantation owned by the ancestors of U.S. Sen. John McCain. He housed a Freedom Rider at their home and participated in meetings and marches for equal rights.
Eager to be a part of change, McCain boarded a bus in their small farming community and headed to Jackson for a march led by Stokely Carmichael, a key activist in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The marchers, including 14-year-old McCain, were approached by police and taken to jail; they stayed there for a week. In 1969, she became one of the first two African-American students to graduate from J.Z. George, a previously all-white high school in North Carrollton.
Through her experiences, McCain, the fourth of six children, developed an indelible love for life, an incredible work ethic and a love for people. After high school she continued her education earning a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College, master’s degrees from Kansas State College and American Theological University, and a doctorate from Wayne State University in Michigan. She worked as a psychology professor at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich. for nearly 40 years before retiring last June. While at MCC, the Army veteran also was a longtime co-facilitator for Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Program. As a certified faculty member for Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, she has conducted workshops on leadership development, multiculturalism, diversity in the workplace, and other topics.
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