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Founders’ Day Convocation honors Henry Laine

African-American educator and writer Henry Allen Laine (1870-1955), an early alumnus of Berea College, was honored at the the annual Founders' Day Celebration in Phelps-Stokes Auditorium on Thursday, October 8.

Henry Allen Laine

Laine, who attended Berea from 1889-1899, was honored with the John G. Fee Award. The award is given posthumously, and honors Berea alumni of 1866-1904 who gave distinguished service to their community, especially in the field of education, and whose lives reflect the ideals of Berea College founder Rev. John G. Fee as expressed in the college’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”

Berea President Larry D. Shinn presented the award on behalf of the college to members of the Laine family.

Laine was the founder of the Madison Colored Teachers Association in 1910 and was chairman of the association for 20 years. He was the first African-American county extension agent and organized a farmer’s club in 1915 for the African-American farmers in Madison County. He also was responsible for forming the Colored Chautauqua, a combination fair and outdoor educational event to bring cultural, religious and social opportunities to the community. He also fought against the closure of Berea College to blacks after 1904, when the passage of Kentucky’s Day Law forbade interracial education in the state’s schools.

Laine was widely known as a poet. His most famous volume, titled “Footprints,” was so popular that it was printed four times – 1914, 1924, 1947 and 1988.

In 2003, Laine was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Eight other Bereans have also been named to the Hall of Fame: founder Rev. John G. Fee; early Berea alumni Carter G. Woodson, James Bond, Mary S. Merritt, and Dr. Mary E. Britton; more recent alumni Galen Martin and David O. Welch, also a long-time Berea College trustee; and Dr. Bill Turner, a professor at Berea.

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