McFadden Talks Success at Founders’ Day Convocation

Sheriff McFadden at Convocation 2024

Charlotte, N.C./April 7, 2023— The Class of 2024, donned in their ceremonial commencement robes, took one of their final walks from Biddle Hall to the Jane M. Smith Memorial Church for the annual Founders’ Day Convocation.

This year celebrates the 157th anniversary of JCSU’s founding on April 7, 1867.

Sheriff Garry L. McFadden Headshot
Sheriff Garry L. McFadden '81

Surrounded by faculty, staff, alumni and friends, the soon-to-be graduates listened attentively to JCSU alumnus Garry L. McFadden ’81, the sheriff for Mecklenburg County, as he recounted some of the successes from his career.

“It is a dream to speak with you all today,” McFadden said. “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, spend a night with a mosquito.”

McFadden, who was elected as the first Black sheriff of Mecklenburg County in 2018, discussed the successes and struggles he experienced throughout his nearly 40-year history in law enforcement.

In particular, McFadden referenced a time in which former President Donald Trump tweeted about McFadden’s stance on immigration, calling him “the most dangerous” sheriff in the world. In 2023, McFadden joined demonstrators in Raleigh who were opposing an N.C. bill that would require sheriffs to carry out federal immigration duties.  

The tweets were received with mixed opinions, but McFadden said he isn’t worried about the opinions of others.

“I’m the descendant of a slave who arrived in Charleston in the belly of a slave ship,” McFadden said. “Do you think I’m worried about what people say on social media? To everyone who has watched my life, watched my successes and watched my struggles: stay tuned. Season two is coming.”

McFadden is a 37-year veteran of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and is one of the department’s most decorated law enforcement officers in history. Following his retirement from CMPD in 2011, he began working with the City of Charlotte to implement community programs.

In 2016, McFadden participated in Investigation Discovery’s “I Am Homicide,” which highlighted some of his most complex homicide cases from his career at the CMPD. The channel signed him again in 2023 for another series that was launched in the same year called “Good Cop – Bad Cop.”

McFadden is married to Cathy, and the couple has three adult children and three grandsons. McFadden is an active member of the NAACP and a lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

2024 Founders' Day Convocation
Photo by Joshua Nypaver

The ceremony also featured special congratulations to JCSU from a number of elected officials and JCSU Golden Bulls, including Malcolm Graham ’85, Charlotte city councilman; Steven L. Boyd ’79, chair of the Board of Trustees; Robert Ridley ’99, president of the National Alumni Association; and Sydlie Fleurimond ’24, SGA president.

“We are here to celebrate the 157th year of JCSU,” said Boyd. “When I think of this anniversary, I frame it much like a birthday. When you think about your birthday, you can’t help but think about your past. You can’t help but see the growth. It’s easy for us to look back and see the changes our institution has gone through. But now we look forward, not only to the coming year but to the next 157 years of our existence.”

The JCSU Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Shawn-Allyce White, performed a number of selections during the program. 

Before ending the convocation with a joyful singing of the Loyalty Song, Dr. Kinloch offered words of wisdom to the graduating Class of 2024.

“Be who you are and stand in your grace,” she said. “You are beautiful, brilliant and magnificent, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”  

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