Dec. 3 was a proud day for N.C. Central University. Three affiliates of the university – either former students or trustees – were sworn in as mayors of their respective communities.
Kevin C. Foy of Chapel Hill, William Bell of Durham, and Marshall B. Pitts of Fayetteville have all taken office.
Foy, a 1994 graduate of the NCCU Law School, was sworn in as mayor of Chapel Hill at the Chapel Hill Town Council organizational meeting. Simultaneously, 1990 law graduate Marshall B. Pitts, Jr. was being sworn in as mayor of Fayetteville. Also, in Durham around the same time, William Bell took over Nick Tennyson’s position as mayor.
Foy, who practices law in Chapel Hill and has served on the Chapel Hill town council, was sworn in by an old friend who attended law school the same time he did. Judge Craig Croom said he was honored to swear in his longtime friend and fellow Eagle.
Croom, a district judge in Wake County has flourished in his attempts to give the N.C. Central Law school a good name by way of his success. Along with Croom, Foy and Pitts have helped give the University’s law program a great reputation. Not to mention the current governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley. The Dean of the law school, Janice L. Mills, said this was a wonderful day because this enhances validity the law program.
“This increases our visibility to prospective students,” she said. “One thing that is great is that we had four alums involved in these ceremonies and everyone sees them as they assume roles of leadership.”
Mills saw growth in Foy, Pitts, and Croom and said they were disciplined and great vision. She also said that their respective towns and cities will benefit from their leadership.
One resident of Chapel Hill who was at the event said that she believed Foy would keep up the reputation that former mayor Rosemary Waldorf set in the past eight years. Foy feels he will do that and also he envisions a change in diversity in Chapel Hill.
Indeed Foy does have plans to help rid Chapel Hill of it’s gradual change into a homogenous, exclusive town. He feels that this is a bad direction to go and he doesn’t want it to be a part of the town’s future.
“As a member of the town council, I have been successful in focusing Chapel Hill on respect for diversity, racial and economic,” said Foy. “We need to be inclusive on everyone because that’s what makes a rich community.”
For Foy, being involved with N.C. Central has helped him in his career due to the fact that it is a Historically Black College. Besides the book knowledge he gained, Foy attributes the portion of his success to NCCU by way of everyday experiences. But he says that it’s not as simple as just learning to co-exist with different kinds of people.
“It’s unique to be able to attend a HBCU because the experience cannot be replicated,” he said. “There is something special about the attitude and struggle that we all went through and that Central still goes through.”
While Foy will be serving Chapel Hill, Pitts, Jr. will serve Fayetteville. Also a 1994 alum, Pitts becomes the first black mayor of Fayetteville. Mayor Foy said that it seems like N.C. Central is monopolizing local politics.
“We’re taking over,” Foy said enthusiastically. “To add Mayor of Fayetteville to the list is incredible and I’m excited for him and that city.”
Those who taught Pitts while he attended here say that he was very solid student and showed signs of being a good lawyer. Charles Smith, a professor of law at NCCU, said that Pitts excelled at law, and he would have never thought that he would try politics. But Smith feels that Pitts will help the city of Fayetteville lose the persona of being a negative place to live.
“Pitts has to bring out the positive image of Fayetteville to attract the big businesses,” he said. “That will be his main hurdle.”
Another former teacher of Pitts was M. Wright. He too never thought that Pitts would try politics. But he feels that Pitts will be effective in the city of Fayetteville. Since he is the first black mayor of Fayetteville, many will be watching to see how he handles himself. Wright says that people should consider competency above color for all candidates.
“The fact the he is black is significant, but should not be our first concern,” said Wright. “What is important is that he does the best job he can do for those citizens, and I am confident that he will.”
All in all, N.C. Central is producing and has produced many fine lawyers and judges for the state. Foy, Pitts, and Bell are amongst the many who have worn the maroon and grey of NCCU.