On Saturday, Feb. 11, the University of Montevallo’s Minority Alumni club gathered for a homecoming brunch to bestow the organization’s inaugural award, the Dr. Lonnie J. Edwards Distinguished Minority Alumnus Award, to Birmingham’s Tracey Morant Adams ’88.
Cynthia Todd ’88, Minority Alumni club president, welcomed and thanked everyone for attending. She then invited alumnus Dr. Lonnie J. Edwards Sr. ’71 to the podium to speak on the award bearing his name.
Edwards came to UM in 1969 as the University’s first African American male athlete. His impressive accomplishments on the court later inducted him into the UM Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
Edwards compared the decision to attend the newly integrated University to the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled. And it made a valuable difference in my life,” he said
After his tenure as a star basketball player for the Fighting Falcons, Edwards went on to a successful career in education. He was the assistant superintendent of the DeKalb County School System in Georgia for 30 years and the superintendent of schools in Jackson, Mississippi for three years. He now resides in Atlanta.
Concluding his speech, Edwards stated he was honored to have the award bare his name. “Hindsight is a true indicator of having made a good or bad decision,” he said. “Montevallo was certainly a great decision for me.”
After Edwards’ introduction, Todd invited Morant Adams to receive the award. She graduated with a degree in management, later earning her MBA from Samford. The alumna is also a proud lifelong member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Morant Adams currently holds the position of executive vice president of Small Business and Community Development at Renasant Bank in Birmingham. In addition, the NAACP has recognized her advocacy work in helping to develop small businesses in underserved communities.
Morant Adams spoke on how humbled she was to receive the inaugural award. She recognized the many people who’ve shaped her throughout her life, including her husband, Jeff Adams, and her mother who urged her to consider Montevallo.
She praised the University for its “history of uniqueness and foundation of excellence,” saying she hoped other small town men and women were as transformed by the education UM offers as she was.