Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 8, 2019 – 11:00 a.m.
Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller broke from the City Commission’s Regular Meeting Agenda on August 6, 2019 to welcome and present a Key to the City to Mr. H. Patrick Swygert, Esquire, his wife, Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick-Swygert and family members Mr. and Mrs. Reginald A. Swygert and Ms. Denise P. Swygert-Huzzy.
The Mayor read the following in his welcoming letter:
The achievements Mr. Swygert attained over the course of his renowned career, include: Howard University 15th President Emeritus; University at Albany, State University of New York President; Temple University Executive Vice President, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Program Advisory Board Chairman; National Security Agency Advisory Board; National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution Founding Director search committee member; the DC Emancipation Commemoration Commission, and the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Mr. Swygert served on the corporate boards of Fannie Mae, United Technologies Corporation and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. He also served as Chairman of the Community Business Partnership of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and was a member of the Brown v. Board of Education Commemoration Commission.
Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick-Swygert’s exemplary career and professional accomplishments include: Howard University School of Education Dean Emerita; Harvard University Visiting Education Scholar; bestselling book contributor: The Last Word: The Best Commentary and Controversy in American Education, and United States Military Academy West Point distinguished faculty.
We are privileged the Swygert family chose Fernandina Beach as their vacation destination and hereby present an honorary “Key to the City” to our most distinguished guests. We applaud their commitment to education, diversity, and inclusion. Any society can stand strong when following the Swygert’s example of leadership and legacy: all people can serve as models of intellectual authority.
Please accept our best wishes for a memorable stay, we hope you will share the Fernandina Beach experience and look forward to you visiting us again soon.
Swygert thanked the Mayor, He said that although many years ago he had been named Washingtonian of the Year, he had not received a key to the city of Washington. He presented Mayor Miller with a series of pins from the various institutions with which he has been associated and asked that he distribute them among the commissioners. “Now when you do so,” Swygert said, “I want you to know that by accepting these pins you become a member of the Howard University Alumni Association. You know what follows.” The commissioners and the audience broke into laughter.
He also presented Mayor Miller with a booklet on the newest Smithsonian Museum: the Museum of African American History. He offered to facilitate visits for any Fernandina Beach visitors to that museum.
Former Vice Mayor Patricia Thompson also delivered a proclamation to the Swygerts on behalf of the Black Caucus of the local Democratic Party. She commended his leadership and ability to inspire others. She said that she hoped his legacy would make people better citizens.
In accepting the framed proclamation from Thompson, Swygert said, “When I hear something like that I say, gee, I’d like to meet that guy some day.”
The Swygerts left the Commission Chamber to audience applause.
Mayor Miller credited his mother with having greeted the Swygerts during their initial visit to Fernandina Beach. She encouraged them to meet the Mayor and to become regular visitors to the city.
Miller said, “To give you some frame of reference, Mick Jagger was here two weeks ago and he didn’t get a key to the city.”