Community activists await a fix to FAMU's financial troubles, but say in the meantime the university cannot do it alone.
Church leaders representing thousands of members across the nation gathered today because they say FAMU's future is threatened by some who would rather see the university shut down than to allow it to fix the financial problems it faces. They are calling for the community's support.
"We want to make a statement that people of this country, people of Florida, are not going to sit back and allow this to happen.
Rev. Ernest Ferrell, the president of the National Primitive Baptist Convention, says there are people who want FAMU closed down because of its financial problems. He says while the university has a $38,000 deficit, in front of a full congregation Friday he said FAMU should be supported for moving toward a solution.
Ernest Ferrell said, "We're not here to try to point fault at anybody. We're here to move forwards, and tell this community and to tell our legislators that we need action. We need something that's in writing that says FAMU is here today and it's going to be here tomorrow."
Ferrell says the community should be helping FAMU, not criticizing it. He says as a neighboring university, FSU, should be one of FAMU's biggest support systems. Many say they feel that legislators taking away financial authority of the FSU-FSU School of Engineering from FAMU to FSU is a move toward a possible takeover.
Dr. Leila Walker, a FAMU alumnus, said, "FAMU is a sacred institution for the nation, for the state of Florida and for the community, especially for African-American students. It's important that FAMU survives and continue its legacy."
The group of leaders urge community members to contact federal, state and local decision makers to let them know that there are still many who embrace FAMU and want the institution to remain open.
Students are getting involved as well. The FAMU student body president and vice president are meeting with Senate President Ken Pruitt Monday at noon.