News Release: FAMU
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Yesterday, the Florida A&M University (FAMU) community along with state, county and city officials honored the legacy and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at FAMU’s annual convocation, which was held in celebration of the civil rights icon’s life and work.
Former U.S. Congressman and FAMU alumnus Kendrick B. Meek delivered the keynote address.
With conviction and passion Meek encouraged Rattlers, of young and old, to be the reality of King’s dream. He challenged each attendee to lead in their respective capacities and communities by continuing to “fight for justice” and “stand up on behalf of what is right.”
“You don’t have to be elected (as an official) to lead,” Meek said. “You know what you must do and what you have to do.”
He continued, “It’s about service, it’s about commitment. It is about not wasting your time here (on earth).”
He reminded the audience that King’s work was about putting aside positions and titles and putting in the work needed to create opportunities and give a voice to the voiceless.
“Dr. King stood for the garbage men, for those who cleaned toilets and for those who served food,” he said.
During his speech, Meek highlighted FAMU’s deep roots in the civil rights movement, pointing to late civil rights activist and alumna Patricia Stephens Due. He also thanked the Dream Defenders, a social change organization comprised of college students and young alumni from around the state, for its tireless efforts to bring the Trayvon Martin tragedy to the public eye.
During the convocation, Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson honored the Dream Defenders, led by FAMU grad Phillip B. Agnew, with the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Organization Leadership Award.
Other honorees included, FAMU Student Senate President Tonette Graham and Riley House Museum founder Althemese Barnes, who received leadership awards for their work in continuing King’s legacy.
Meek, who received the 2014 President’s Award during the convocation, also took a moment to credit his mother with instilling in him the desire to respect and speak up for people from all circumstances and walks of life.
He explained how his mother taught him, when first arriving at FAMU as a student, to remember to not only greet the president, but also greet the person caring for the campus lawn. He said that FAMU expanded upon the wisdom passed down by his mother by the way the university embraced him despite of his disability.
“This institution wrapped its arms around me ... as it has wrapped its arms around so many of us,” said Meek, who despite entering FAMU as a student coping with dyslexia and a sixth-grade reading level, left the institution with an education that led him to a successful career of service.
At the conclusion of Meek’s heart-felt speech, the tone of the room was reminiscent of the days of the civil rights movement.
FAMUans and community members of all races and ages stood united as they listened to Dr. James Moran, of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, reenact King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech, accompanied by the FAMU Department of Music.
“We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation,” Moran recited.
After Moran’s moving performance, attendees joined hands and sung “We Shall Overcome,” accompanied by FAMU’s Gospel Choir and music department.
Robinson concluded the event with a profound call to remembrance and action.
“Let us never forget the real struggle it took to arrive to this day,” said Robinson, a former NAACP branch president. “FAMU will be the last university standing when it comes to being keepers of the dream of Dr. King.”
By: Bailey Myers
January 15th, 2014
Tallahassee FL-FAMU is celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hosting a convocation in his honor.
Music from FAMU's choral group, as well as the band performed classic pieces in dedication to Doctor King. We spoke with one local leader who told us Martin Luther King Junior Day is not just about the man-- but more importantly the legacy he left behind.
Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum told us, "Today is an opportunity to just reflect on the amount of progress that I think our country has made when it comes to equality and fairness and and fighting for love."
Hundreds of students and faculty were on hand to listen to speakers as well, including former U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Speakers discussed the progress of the country, and the ways FAMU and the Tallahassee community are working to overcome future obstacles.