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Lincoln University Honors the Legacy of their Founders and Looks Toward the Future at Founders’ Day 2024

Abbey Tauchen | February 9th, 2024

Lincoln University of Missouri (LU) celebrated 158 years of education during the 2024 Founders’ Day celebration in Mitchell Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 8. The annual event honors and recognizes the enlisted Black men and white officers of the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantries — who fought and sacrificed to secure the right to education for freed Blacks following the Civil War.

Dr. Ivory Toldson, national director of Education Innovation and Research for the NAACP and former executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, delivered the keynote address.

Toldson opened his remarks by recognizing the day as bittersweet, as the university celebrates the university’s founding with great pride at a time of grieving, following the recent passing of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey. Toldson acknowledged her dedication and influence as he began his remarks.

“Lincoln University isn’t just an institution,” Dr. Toldson says. “It’s a living embodiment of a legacy. A space where whispers of the past ignite fires of the present, propelling us towards a future brimming with possibility.”

Toldson drew upon ancestral stories as he reminded the students, faculty, staff and alumni to honor the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before.

“Lincoln University stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of black excellence,” he says. “Ancestral sacrifices pave the way for our steps and our unwavering belief that education is the key to liberation, illumining the pathway ahead.”

“(HBCUs) are sanctuaries of hope, incubators of leaders and testaments to the transformative power of education. HBCUs serve as models for civil rights and compassion. Our campuses foster inclusivity, nurturing minds across diverse backgrounds, forging pathways forward for a more just and equitable society. Students who walk these halls not only hold intellectual prowess but also an innate understanding of the human condition. They graduate to become leaders in science, arts, humanities — armed not just with knowledge but with empathy, a cornerstone of true compassion.”


Lincoln University Acting President Dr. Stevie Lawrence II presented Earl and Billie Coachman with the 2024 Family of the Year award. The Coachman family was joined by Billie’s mother and LU alumna, Frances Regina Robinson. (photo credit: News Tribune)

In addition to Toldson’s address, Lincoln honored its founders with performances from the Lincoln University Band and Lincoln University choir, the annual laying of the wreath ceremony and by recognizing LU’s Family of the Year, the Coachman family. Earl and Billie Coachman have been married for 57 years, and their story began at Lincoln when they met in 1967. They are part of a strong history of Blue Tiger graduates. Billie’s grandfather, Reginald Robinson, and mother, Frances Regina Robinson, received degrees from Lincoln, and Earl and Billie’s son, Royce, also attended Lincoln.

In his remarks, Dr. Stevie Lawrence II, the acting president of Lincoln University, expressed gratitude for the dream of education that Lincoln’s founders believed in, stating, “They never met any of us, but they believed in us.” He says the education at Lincoln today is far greater than what any of the founders could have imagined.

“Our founders (the men of the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantries) entrusted us with this university at this point and time,” Dr. Lawrence says. “Even as we face some of the darkest days, we must continue to fight for the fundamental ideas of this university so that the mark we leave behind makes it better for generations to come.”

Alumni University News Press Release