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To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Aaron O. Hoff, Lafayette’s first African American student and a member of its inaugural class, Lafayette students are leading an initiative to erect a memorial at Hoff’s Easton Cemetery gravesite, which is unmarked.

The public is cordially invited to attend a special free event to kick off the memorial project from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall. The event will conclude with the laying of a wreath at the Hoff gravesite.

Hoff blew a trumpet summoning Lafayette’s first 43 students and three teachers on the first day of class at the College, May 9, 1832. He died January 29, 1902, at age 94.

The chair of the Aaron O. Hoff centennial memorial project committee is Landon J. Adams, a senior religion major from Columbus, Ohio.

“The committee is dedicated to erecting a memorial that is fitting for the setting and noteworthy of Aaron O. Hoff and Lafayette,” Adams says. “At Lafayette we are proud to be more than a number. Currently at Hoff’s grave there is only a marker designating the plot number. The committee has vowed to give Hoff his name back.”

The memorial will be unveiled in late spring, Adams says. Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art and director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute, has been commissioned to design a bronze statue of a horn blower to stand atop a black granite memorial at the gravesite. The memorial will also include bronze disks designed by Holton bearing Hoff’s image and telling his Lafayette legacy.

Money for scholarships and grants that will benefit the Easton community in Hoff’s honor is also being raised, Adams adds. “The purpose of this project does not stop at the cemetery,” he says.

For the past 11 years, Lafayette students have honored individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to Lafayette and the community through the annual Aaron O. Hoff Awards.

Other members of the Hoff memorial project committee, all seniors, are vice chair Nana Ama Bentsi-Enchill of Falls Church, Va. (government and International Studies); treasurer Benjamin Mack of Ridgewood, N.J. (International Affairs); campaign manager Matthew Murphy of Babylon, N.Y. (economics and business); events coordinator Jadrien Ellison of Paterson, N.J. (Africana Studies); and community liaison Alandra VanDross of Elmont, N.Y. (Africana Studies).

Carrie L. Spell, assistant dean of students and director of intercultural development, is a committee member ex-officio. For information, contact the Hoff Committee at the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center, (610) 330-5819.

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