The Loss of a Legacy

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Posted Sat, Nov 19, 2016

Lawrence Borom

MSU Denver Professor Lawrence H. Borom Ph.D. and his wife Betty Borom.

“I attended the Homegoing Celebration for the life of Larry Borom at Park Hill United Methodist Church, where the impact of his life was much in evidence.  The church was filled with people whom Larry had touched in some way—government officials, community leaders, activists, educators, students–and tributes to him that we heard had come in from around the country.” – Professor Jacquelyn Benton, MSU Denver African-American Studies.

DENVER — Lawrence H. Borom, an affiliate professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver passed away on Oct. 20, 2016 at the age of 79, as a result of brain hemorrhaging from an accidental fall. While his sudden passing comes as a shock to the students and those who knew and loved him, his contributions to uplifting the black community and legacy still live on in those who saw him as their mentor.

“Professor Lawrence ‘Larry’ Borom was a wonderful and very warm colleague who was very popular with both students and faculty in the Africana Studies Department at Metro State University of Denver,” said Associate Professor Dr. Douglas Mpondi. “Always a jovial and likeable person, Larry’s passing has left us poorer and the Africana Studies Department and the larger MSU Denver community will dearly miss him.”

Early Years

Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Lawrence grew to be a community leader and activist. He attended Youngstown State University where he earned a B.S. in education, M.A. in urban studies from the University of Mankato State College in Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in sociology and race relations at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Lawrence also served three years in the United States Army, and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for over 50 years.

During the early years of his career as an activist, Lawrence worked for the Urban League in Minnesota serving as the director of community development, and as the director of Minnesota’s Governor’s Human Relations Commission.

In 1976 Lawrence moved to Denver, Colorado and became the first president and CEO of Denver Urban Leagues serving from 1976 to 1991. During his tenure at the Denver Urban League, Lawrence and a staff of roughly 50 people produced television and radio programs.

Lawrence was the co-founder of the African-American Leadership Institute at MSUD, the One Hundred Black Men of Denver, and the Black Directors Council in Denver. He was a member of the Colorado Black Roundtable, the Black Education Advisory Council, the Denver NAACP, the National Association of Black Veterans and the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver Guild.

Inspired a new Generation

In 1993 Lawrence became the director of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and served until 1996. Lawrence served as chairman of the Black Education Advisory Council and advocated against “systematic discrimination” in Denver Public Schools that caused a declined in number of African-American teachers in the district. In 2009 Lawrence filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging DPS for discriminatory practices.

From 2008 and until the time of his death, Lawrence taught the following courses in the Africana Studies Department: Introduction to African American Studies, Politics and Black People and The Black Community at MSU Denver. During his time as a professor he taught his students the value and contributions made by African-Americans in the context of American history, and inspired a new generation of activist and community leaders.

“He was a great professor. I enjoyed his class. Rest in peace,” said Shah Love, a former student of Lawrence’s at MSUD.

In 2012 Lawrence and his wife Betty was awarded the Sebastian Owens Community Service Award by the Denver Urban League, and in 2014 Lawrence received an honorary doctorate degree from the Denver Institute for Urban Studies for his public service.

Legacy Lives On

The memorial services were held for Lawrence on Oct. 29, 2016 at Park Hill United Methodist Church where over 300 community members gathered to pay homage to his legacy and honor his contribution to the reclamation of greatness.

“We all have people behind the scenes that pour into our lives,” said Eddie Koen a friend of Lawrence’s. “Lawrence was one of them for me.”

The African-American community has lost one of its most outspoken and unrelenting leaders his legacy lives on through those he taught as a professor and as a mentor and while we are sad to see him go, those who loved and cherish him will continue his crusade for equality, justice and the reclamation of greatness.

“He was advocate of black history and politics, and was loved by many,” said his wife Betty Borom.

Lawrence was more than a professor, he was the epitome of greatness, an activist for the African-American community, a voice for the voiceless and although gone, his legacy lives on.

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About Mattye Crowley

Mattye Crowley is a Denver-area writer and journalist.

View all posts by Mattye Crowley

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