|Congratulations to Larry Spruill, a board member at Not in Our Town Princeton. He will be honored with the Journey Award from Princeton University on Martin Luther King Day (seating starts at 1 p.m., program starts at 1:30 p.m.) in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Last year the awardee was the university’s associate dean for academics and diversity.The first recipient of the award for lifetime service, in 2005, was university vice president Robert Durkee. The article below is from the invitation to the event, which will include music by the Princeton High School Studio Band and a keynote from Omar Wasow. a politics professor at Princeton who founded the social networking site for African Americans (BlackPlanet) and who is known as Oprah Winfrey’s social media tutor. It will be an exciting afternoon and a tribute that Larry richly deserves.|
Larry Spruill was born in 1951 in Columbia, North Carolina, in the Jim Crow era. He recalls the “Whites Only” restrooms, movie theaters, and he attended segregated schools. Even at the age of 6 he knew something wasn’t right. He did not feel any different than his white childhood friend, Boy Davis. Larry’s parents moved to Princeton for a better life in 1957. His dad, Leslie, landed a potato picking job in Cranbury, and his mother, Zula, worked at the Princeton University infirmary. Larry and his little sister Dale loved the Princeton community and attended Princeton public schools.
Growing up, Larry enjoyed Boy Scouts, summer camps, and the Princeton Youth Center. In 1968, at the age of 18, he met Fern, his soon-to-be wife, and it was love at first sight. After high school Fern and Larry moved to New York, then North Carolina and Baltimore, before returning “home” to Princeton. They started a family in 1974 with the birth of their daughter, Tynicka. Two years later they had Sherry. Both live close by with their families, including five grandchildren for them to spoil.
Larry has worked for Princeton University housing for 24 years, cheerfully assisting faculty, staff, and graduate students from all over the world, many of whom he now calls his friends. During his tenure at the university, Larry has been closely involved with diversity inclusion and civil rights groups: Not in Our Town Princeton, The New Jim Crow Princeton, the Princeton Public School’s Minority Education Committee, YMCA-Y Scholars Program, the Trenton chapter of the NAACP, and Princeton Human Services department.
In 2004 Larry founded the youth group, Committed Princetonians, and he and his wife Fern run a biweekly mentoring program during the academic year. The group provides academic and social development support to at-risk youth via public speakers, community partnerships, and team-building field trips.
Over the years, Larry has been recognized for community involvement. In 2006 he earned a Community Appreciation Award from Princeton Human Services. In 2009 he earned the Platinum Dad award from the Union Industrial Home Family Partners, and 2010 he earned the Centennial Award from the Princeton YMCA.
Larry is humbled to receive the Martin Luther King Day Journey Award. He shares the award with his family, friends, and community members who serve alongside him in various community groups.