Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation

Grad John Lewis Event Speaker

ASU alumna Michelle Summers (photo contributed).

ASU Graduate Speaks at John Lewis Leadership Conference

- Michelle Summers (Class of 1998) says ASU inspired her to uplift others in life.

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU

michelle summersAn Alabama State University alumna who is also a renowned educator, activist and advocate for empowering others, was a keynote speaker at the Congressman John Lewis Leadership Conference. The conference has been held for the last 21 years and is named for the late pioneering civil rights legend and United States congressman, John Lewis, who was a native of Troy, Ala. The event was hosted by the city of Troy and Troy University on Saturday, Feb. 3. 

ASU alumna Michelle Summers (class of 1998) provided the keynote address during the conference’s closing luncheon. A native of Chicago, Summers came to Montgomery to attend Alabama State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Education degree in Language Arts Secondary Education. After graduation, she was hired by ASU's College of Visual and Performing Arts and served as "head" of acting for then Dean Tommie Tonea Stewarts’ acclaimed performing arts summer camps.

"I spoke to the attendees of the John Lewis Conference about how empowerment for our community is still, in many instances, a life and death struggle just as it was when Congressman Lewis helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, beginning with Lewis's involvement with the Freedom Rider Bus Movement in 1961 and continuing in many different freedom venues, which included the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March where he led peaceful protestors across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge only to be met by violence at the hands of Alabama State Troopers and Dallas County Sheriff's deputies on what historians call 'Bloody Sunday' due to the violence they encountered at the hands of the White law enforcement officials," Summers said by phone.

Summers’ educational career has allowed her to help young people over a 24-year span of time, including her present position as an educational facilitator with the state of Alabama's Department of Youth Services where she works to help, "lift-up" and provide hope to the incarcerated young people who are housed in Alabama's Youth Services facilities. Summers is also the founder and CEO of Michelle Summers Enterprise, LLC, and host of a social-media platform, titled “Michelle Speaks Life,” which is followed by tens of thousands of fans.

Summers has performed on diverse stages across the nation and is an accomplished inspirational, educational and motivational speaker. 

"I am blessed and overjoyed to have spoken at an empowerment event named for John Lewis, a person who was well ahead of his time and whose life and purpose was dedicated to community action and who had a global heart whose goal was to lift-up all people," Summers shared.


Summers explained that her years under the tutelage of Dr. Stewart, first as a student and later as an employee at Alabama State University, inspired her to work to promote diversity and inclusiveness for the least and lost among the nation's residents.

"It was while I was at Alabama State that Dr. Tonea Stewart taught me to both recognize and speak to the needs of people who are disadvantaged, have special needs and or are under-represented, so as to lift them up in mind, body and soul," said Summers, who is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. "I love my Alabama State University and owe so much to it for helping shape me into a person who places the welfare of others foremost in whatever I do in life."


Officials from the Troy Department of Tourism explained that the purpose of the conference was to gather a diverse group of individuals to discuss ideas and promote                  concepts in order to strengthen relationships, promote multicultural collaboration and empower diverse leaders with the tools that will allow them to serve people,                        organizations and communities more fairly.

To learn more about Summers’ work, visit her social media platform titled "Michelle Speaks Life."

ASU news media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.