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Sheriff Eric Bryant speaks at GSW’s 44th MLK Convocation

AMERICUS, GA (January 29, 2024) — Georgia Southwestern State University hosted its 44th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in the GSW Storm Dome on Wednesday, Jan. 24 with Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant serving as keynote speaker.

The theme for the event was titled “It Starts with Me: Cultivating a Beloved Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems.”

The ceremony included performances from the GSW Concert Choir and Southwest Civic Chorus, Sumter County High School Gospel Choir, and the GSW Gospel Choir with the wreath presentation by the Sumter County High School JROTC.

Bryant is a dedicated public servant from Americus, Ga. with a rich and varied career in law enforcement. Graduating from Americus High School in 1993, he embarked on a path of service in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1994 to 2000. His commitment to public safety led him to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, starting as a jailor in 1996 and swiftly moving through the ranks by attending the Abraham Baldwin College Police Academy the same year. Bryant then served as a patrol deputy for three years.

In 2000, Bryant took on the role of assistant transportation supervisor for Sumter County Schools and soon advanced to supervisor, overseeing safe student transportation while maintaining his involvement in law enforcement part-time.

A pivotal moment came in October 2004 when a retired state trooper, who had issued Bryant his first ticket on his sixteenth birthday, presented him with an opportunity to return to law enforcement. Following this encounter, Bryant was appointed chief deputy under Sheriff Pete Smith.

Outside of his professional commitments, he is a devoted husband to Suleania Bryant and a caring father to Christopher, Eric Jr., Harrison, and Haleigh. Actively involved in his community, Bryant is a proud member of the Deacon Ministry at Lebanon Baptist Church in Plains, Ga. His interests include a love for outdoor activities and cherishing quality moments spent with his family.

The MLK Convocation is sponsored by the African American Male Institute (AAMI), GSW’s Division of Business and Finance, GSW MLK Convocation Committee, GSW Gospel Choir, National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), Strong United Assertive Virtuous Educated Women (SUAVE), Division of Student Engagement and Success (SES), and Student Government Association (SGA).

The platform party included (R-L in order of program): Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Bishop Melvin McCluster, SGA President Alex Espitia, GSW President Dr. Neal Weaver, GSW National Pan-Hellenic Council and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. President Rylan Jackson, Safe Harbor Outreach Center Rev. Jeremy Wicker, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. President Deshaun Simmons, GSW African American Male Institute Peer Mentor Kenneth Daniels, Only Imagine Owner Suleania Bryant, Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant (speaker), GSW Financial Aid Specialist Kina Davis, and Calvary Episcopal Pastor Father Richard Nelson.

The ceremony is available at for those who were not able to attend in person.