Tallahassee, FL - A group of about 100 people gathered in the Grand Ballroom at FAMU to mark the one year anniversary of the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
"We had to reflect on Robert Champion's death and that the community has not forgotten about him," said Craig Lightfoot, a student at FAMU.
The 26-year-old Champion died after a beating on a bus at the Florida Classic in Orlando November 19, 2011. His death sparked several investigations of hazing, membership and finances of the band. Those investigations silenced the band. It was suspended for an entire academic year this year. Several members of the band sat in the crowd Monday night, listening to various speakers talk about what the university has overcome.
Interim FAMU president, Dr. Larry Robinson sat front row before he went to the podium to tell the crowd how the university has come a long way over the past year.
"We've instituted a number of new procedures, policy changes, staffing changes, in the last year that I think are going to be very helpful as we address the issues of hazing at the university," said Dr. Robinson.
Robinson himself is an example of the staffing changes he mentioned. He was appointed the position after Dr. James Ammons resigned from the post over the summer.
Many agree it's been a rough year for the school. "This journey has been impactful to students, alumni and it's supporters.," said Michael Jefferson, Student Body Vice President.
But a year many say they can learn from and use to move forward. "We're going to make our stand and we're going to make sure that the world knows FAMU is a safe place and it's a great place," said Jefferson.
About five hours north, just outside of Atlanta, Champion's family held it's own candlelight vigil to mark the one year anniversary. Since Champion's death more than a dozen band members were charged in his death. The Champion family was also recently offered a $300,000 settlement from the school, which they turned down.