ROCK HILL — In a speech that was part history lesson, part sermon, Bishop Joseph Johnson challenged Clinton Junior College Friday to keep striving, predicting by 2014 the school will have a new name, Clinton College.
Johnson, a retired bishop of the AME Zion Church and former chairman of the board of trustees for Clinton Junior College, spoke at Fridays 119th Founders Day Celebration.
If you continue to press, God will give you the strength to keep on climbing, concluded Johnson to a round of spirited cheers.
Several of the necessary steps to move from a two-year college to a four-year institution are already in place. The school will offer four-year programs in religion studies and business administration beginning next fall.
The schools Board of Trustees met Thursday to consider the name change, said spokesman Willie Tabor. There is no timetable to change the name, Tabor said.
In his speech Johnson focused on the struggle blacks, particularly those in the South, endured to gain education. He said the black church and its pastors realize the need to not only train the hands of blacks, but their minds as well.
While the struggles were monumental, there were also victories, he said.
He cited Clinton Junior College as an example of overcoming the odds to reach success.
Johnson noted there have been several times that Clinton Junior College came close to closing.
Sometimes it was related to economy, such as the Great Depression.
Sometimes it was related to accreditation and lack of federal funds.
And there were times the AME Zion Church, which founded the school and continues to help fund it, wanted to close Clinton Junior College.
But each time Clinton Junior College staff and students persevered.
Johnson said the latest challenge is from the federal government and budgets cuts resulting from sequestration. Its the rich get richer and poor get poorer, he said.
He called people to tell the Pharaohs of Congress Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Rep. John Boehner of Ohio to let my people go.
Johnson also encouraged all blacks to join the NAACP, noting its close relationship with the AME Zion church.
Following Johnsons speech, the various districts of the church and the schools faculty, trustees, staff, and alumni made their contributions to Clinton Junior College.
Initially about $79,000 was raised to support the school, but at the urging of Bishop Kenneth Monroe, presiding prelate of the South Atlantic Episcopal District, who said he didnt like odd numbers that number increased to $98,890.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066