Dr. Alice Geoffray Delivers Final Public Speech
On January 13, 2001, my mom, Alice R. Geoffray, travelled from Dallas to New Orleans for a Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast where she would be honored at the Torch Bearers’ event for her work at The Adult Education Center. Accompanying mom that day were several members of the Geoffray family and many former Adult Education Center students. My mom was 77 at that time and we were all so proud of her and delighted by the accolades she was receiving at this time in her life. What I did not know was that she was being honored with six other well deserved New Orleans citizens -- one being Ruby Bridges Hall. Mom among this distinguished group of recipients reinforced how she played an important role as an educator and one who made such a difference in so many lives. Here is the speech mom gave on that day.
– Jeanne Geoffray
I shall never forget the summer of 1965,
when I became Director of the Adult Education Center. If I live to be a hundred-and, incidentally, I’m not so far away from that now-I can never forget those challenging days, nor would I want to. In fact, if the Good Lord would say to me now, “If you could, Alice, which part of your professional life would you choose to live over?” I would be compelled to say, “This part—the period between July, 1965, and October, 1972.” If He would ask “Why?” I would have to say that it represented the most incredible, most significant period of my professional life.
Why is it, that even after 35 years, after many successful positions, promotions, and recognitions, I still feel the same? It is very simple to explain. During that time, I met and taught 431 remarkable women. I bonded with them. I laughed and cried with them. I shared their dreams. I learned from them. I loved them. More importantly, I helped them get the jobs they needed to gain access to the American dream.
These women succeeded at those jobs for 35 years. Their taxes and their skills have enhanced the economic progress of New Orleans. They have paid back, in taxes, a thousandfold, the money that the Federal Government had invested in their education. They have seen the tremendous impact their sacrifices have made in the lives of their children. For 35 years, I have reveled in their achievements.
Today, as I sit at this Saturday Prayer Breakfast, two thoughts occur to me. First, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity and privilege to have played a tiny role in the Civil Rights Movement. Secondly, I give praise to Dr. Martin Luther King for inspiring such a movement, thus becoming the conscience of America. “Somewhere, Reverend King, I pray, that you may know that your dream has never been realized more eloquently or more graciously as it has been through these 431 women I have mentioned. Their successes give testimony to your faith in all of humankind.”
So, it is with pride that I accept this recognition today. I accept it not only in my name but in the name of the Adult Education Center. Certainly, my graduates are as deserving as I to receive this prestigious honor. May I ask your indulgence, then, as I invite those graduates, who accompanied me here today, to stand with me as I accept your applause and to cherish it as their own? Thank you.
- Dr. Alice Geoffray
If you attended this breakfast and award program, please let us know as we would like to include all participants. And, please share with us your thoughts and feelings from that day with us. Contact us.