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Cornelius News

Grandson of John Connor inducted into Livingstone College Leaders Hall of Fame

March 9. Michael D. Connor, a professor of theater arts at Livingstone College in Salisbury, was inducted into the United Negro College Fund/Livingstone College Leaders Hall of Fame late last month.

The Cornelius resident is the grandson of the man for whom John Connor Road is named, and lives on the same road to this day. He has appeared in “General Hospital,” “The Color Purple,” “Homeland” and “Hunger Games.”

The playwright and director has worked on Broadway while studying playwriting at the Negro Ensemble Co., as well as working in Hollywood where he wrote a play about Bette Davis, for whom he served as a personal assistant.

The 69-year-old lives on John Connor Road and teaches Sunday school at Hunters Chapel United Methodist Church.

What follows is a truncated version of his acceptance speech before the Livingstone College Leaders Hall of Fame.

“Since this is Black History month, I looked into my history. My grandfather told me once, ‘whatever you do, help someone.’

John Connor, not the Terminator but the cultivator, was my grandfather and his father was Cheeseman Monroe Connor who was born in slavery in 1855, his mother, my great great grandmother Peggy Graham aka Margaret Connor was born in 1815, her parents were possibly Nigerians according to my DNA. 

When I look at my biological history it humbles me. My family history was a struggle like many African Americans. Although, John Connor was able to own a considerable amount of real estate and a road is named after him, and I live on that road. It beckons me to give back.

My father taught that lesson when I was very young as we sat under grandpas’ big shady oak tree eating watermelon. I asked, ‘Dad why are we littering the ground with seeds?’

Remembering the commercial on television that said, every litter bit hurts. Dad said, ‘When you take from the soil you must give back to the soil.’

In my way, I have tried to give back. It is my duty as a humanitarian to do so.

The legendary actress, Bette Davis, said to me, ‘You must have come from good stock.’ Although she was trying to be endearing, I changed her comment to mean ‘You come from a long line of good people.’ 

When I consider my great great grandmother had three children, I know of, and my great grandfather, whose father was white, had 21 children; and my grandfather had 12 and two foster children; and my father had four boys and four girls, does make for a long line of people.

Without my ancestors, this Michael Connor you see before you today, would not exist and most certainly would not have done the things that he has done to make this world a little better than he found it.”

Click here for the full text of his remarks.