BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Standing at the podium at Bethune-Cookman University’s Performing Arts Center (PAC), Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III recalled the last time he spoke at B-CU. It was in 2004.
“Last time I was here was for Brother Cherry,” said Butts, who eulogized Daytona Times founder and former Daytona Beach City Commissioner Charles W. Cherry, Sr. during homegoing services at B-CU’s PAC nine years ago. “I want to thank the Cherry family for their love and support,” he said.
Cherry, Sr., current Daytona Times Publisher Charles W. Cherry II, CEO Dr. Glenn W. Cherry, and Butts are all graduates of Atlanta’s Morehouse College. Cherry, Sr.’s funeral was the first one held in the PAC.
Butts is the pastor of the internationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City. Butts is also president of the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Old Westbury.
Before Butts addressed the students, B-CU President Edison Jackson said there is “a wonderful energy this place has – that of the Lord.”
Jackson was speaking during the school’s convocation that he called the “official opening of the university.” He shared that some students told him they made it to the school some “on wings and a prayer.”
“With that faith,” Jackson told the students to “continue to believe some way or another you are going to make it” to eventually graduate.
Jackson then introduced Butts as “a great friend” while Jackson was president of Medgar Evers College, before coming to BCU.
Butts said people always ask him why he has two jobs – pastor of a church and president of a college.
“Because I am a Black man in America,” he said to laughter of the PAC audience, which was packed with students, faculty and local residents. Butts had sage advice for the students.
“Without a trained mind and an inspired heart, you will go nowhere,” he said.
“Develop a sense of savoir faire,” he said. “It’s important to know what to do in all situations.”
Butts also told the students it’s important for them to develop character. He said a lack of character is why so many people have difficulties in life.
‘Yearn for luxury’
“Character is defined as ‘avoidance of luxury.’ We yearn for luxury at any expense to survive in the world,” he continued. “We buy more name-brand things than anyone,” he said, drawing more laughter.
He told students that it’s important to save money and start investing in things such as property that will last. He also told them to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, including withdrawing financial support “from anything that is not helping your community.”
‘See God’s face’
He advised them to be courteous to one another, and to see the face of God in each other.
“Black people – we don’t see each other. We should recognize value of each individual. We do better in unity.
“You don’t have time to play, dream or drift. Take what you do very seriously,” he concluded.