Virginia Tech® home

A Hokie legacy 50 years in the making

Loading player for
Category: campus experience Video duration: A Hokie legacy 50 years in the making
50 years after his graduation from Virginia Tech, Jim Watkins '71, returned to Lane Stadium to watch his grandson, Diondre Watkins, walk across the stage to graduate. Jim, a founding member of Groove Phi Groove fraternity, initiated a scholarship in the name of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Inc..  
It feels like every day is so short and it feels like, it's these four years have kind of flown by. It was no surprise Diondre Watkins wound up at Virginia Tech. There was I think a lot of influence from my grandfather, especially because he's he loves Virginia Tech and he continues to talk about it. He's very proud that I'm going and I'm graduating from Virginia Tech. His grandfather who adopted and raised him is alumnus Jim Watkins. He has Virginia Tech paraphernalia everywhere. There's all all over our house and things of that nature. He has Virginia Tech stuff. Diondre is graduating with a double-major in psychology and criminology where he found an overlap in issues of social justice and behavior. I'm hoping to do something in the future related to either law enforcement or go into something psychology related, maybe counseling for young juveniles who are either in low income status or have committed an offense, a legal offense. Just counseling for kids of that nature. [You feel like a Hokie yet?] Conversations about such topics are not new for the Watkins family. Jim, who came to Virginia Tech in 1967, was one of only five black male freshmen on his dorm floor. Once we were here, we all made a pact to transfer after our first year. We all made a pact we were going to transfer. It was a time, he says, when campus wasn't very accommodating. Dixie was the fight song, no doubt about that. And the Confederate flag came out running with the American flag and the state flag of Virginia. So, and everybody stood up and cheered, and of course, we weren't going to stand up and cheer for that. So, so that first year was tough. Jim and his friends persevered. This is my grandfather's Groove Phi Groove sweater. They founded the fraternity Groove Phi Groove, creating and growing their own community. And that impetus kept sane enough to feel like I could deal with the academics and I could deal with being the only black in most of my classes and stuff like that. When it came time for his own graduation in 1971, Jim was focused on his next step, dental school, not necessarily celebrating his own achievement. A matter of fact, my parents didn't even come. I feel bad about that now because I asked them not to because I didn't feel like it was anything but a step to the next phase. But he's Virginia Tech experience left an impression, an affection for the people and community he helped build. I was kind of sad that I had asked that and I was kind of sad about leaving because again, we had a really good focus of brothers here and the students here, had gotten to the point where it seemed that, that Virginia Tech was really kind of heading in the right direction with some things. 50 years later, Jim and his family sit in the stands at Diondre's Commencement to celebrate a legacy. It was really special to have Diondre finish Virginia Tech, finish my