College of Business graduate Jaymes Winters, class of 1985, was the kickoff speaker April 15 at the grand opening celebration of the new home of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center.
Winters, the late Harris’ nephew, is the CEO of Blue Leopard Capital, a private equity fund based in Portland. He told the overflow crowd of nearly 300 that he hoped the new facility could be “a center for everybody to get a better understanding of each other, what diversity is all about, and not just a place people visit on Kwanzaa and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
Winters batted leadoff for a lineup of speakers that included Geoff Brooks, a 1972 Oregon State alumnus and a member of the OSU board of visitors; fellow board member Larry Griggs; Corvallis NAACP president Barry Jerkins; and OSU president Ed Ray.
The grand opening was intentionally scheduled for April 15 because it’s Jackie Robinson Day, the date in 1947 that Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier; Harris, the first director of the university’s Educational Opportunities Program, was an accomplished baseball player and coach, Griggs said.
The center that bears his name, a gleaming brick and wood structure, is at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Memorial Place.