Retired Professor and Coach James Randolph Honored at Pan-African Festival

by Jocelyn Moye

James Randolph (center) is pictured with student Julius Spann (left) and Academic Coach Michael Jackson. Photo by Matt Carlin

The Montgomery County Community College 17th annual Pan-African Festival recognized former Physical Education Professor James Randolph.  Randolph, one of the first African American instructors at the College, began coaching baseball in 1971.  He was awarded with a plaque for the impact his legacy has had on the College.

“The goal has been to recognize the heroes that have paved the way for African American students,” says Maurice “Tony” Davis, counselor and African American Student League (ASL) advisor, of the Pan-African festival.

“I had a great deal of fun,” says Randolph of his 26 years at the College.

The former minor-league Baltimore Oriole became an acclaimed coach, leading the Mustangs to championships in baseball.  He later coached golf, and then became the director of athletics.  The Norristown native was also active in the community.  He participated in several fundraisers and activities, like the Times Herald Baseball School and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association.

Randolph was a mentor, as well as a coach, to his students.  One former student, Scott DeLoatch described Randolph with the words, “character, honesty, integrity, and loyalty.”  Randolph impacted his life beyond the classroom.  DeLoatch became one of the few African American professional golfers in the North Eastern part of America.

“Many of us are husbands, fathers, and educators,” DeLoatch says, crediting Randolph’s mentoring.  Randolph’s legacy has opened doors for African American students to this day.

The event opened with a performance by jazz flutist Keith Marks followed by a presentation by ASL students.  Candice Benson’s soaring vocals engaged the audience.  Andrew Mills’ and Olivia Herndon’s passionately recited original poems, and Chauncie Hardy and Tenijua Dix’s interpretive dance were amongst the other performances.

ASL student members organized the event.

“We all worked very hard and came together,” said dancers Hardy and Dix, of the ASL.

The club president, Justeix Collins-Cropper, affirmed this.

“Club members plan and work together.”

Collins-Cropper, an education major, said that the club uses events like this to portray African Americans as they are.  This counteracts one-dimensional media portrayal.

Dorian Williams, an ASL member, also feels that it is, “very important to recognize people like him [James Randolph] because of the portrayal of African Americans” in the media.  Williams says the Pan-African festival is an important way to expose other students to the reality of African American culture.

The Pan-African Festival was first organized by former ASL president Minnie Grayson.  She and other esteemed guests, Dr. Martin Gelman (psychology professor), and the first recipient of the award, retired psychology and sociology professor Thomas G. Snowden, also attended the event.

Davis says that each year the Pan-African Festival will to continue to acknowledge and esteem African Americans who have influenced students beyond the classroom.

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Jocelyn Moye is a Liberal Studies major at Montgomery County Community College.

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