|From left to right — Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes Harris; FAMU President James H. Ammons; Martin Luther King, III; FAMU Board of Trustees Member Atty. Daryl Parks and FAMU Faculty Senate President Maurice Holder sing “We Shall Overcome” during the FAMU Martin Luther King Convocation.|
January 21, 2011
– Martin Luther King III, the son of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., honored his father’s legacy today as the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Convocation at Florida A&M University (FAMU).
Touching on issues related to poverty, race and healthcare, King said we have not made enough changes in terms of race, but we have made significant progress.
“When we look at poverty we made almost no progress,” said King. “Forty-five million people living in poverty. Last year, one million people lost their houses because of foreclosure. Another 1.5 million were filed; almost three million foreclosures were filed last year. This year another 1.2 million are projected to lose their houses. We need to have a moratorium on foreclosures. People do not need to lose their houses in America, a nation that is wealthy.”
King argued that everyone in America deserves healthcare, pointing out that there is something wrong when there are individuals voting against the healthcare reform bill when they have the best healthcare.
“We are an interesting nation; we are a nation that consistently function inconsistently,” said King. “We preach peace but we practice war. You can’t preach peace but continue to practice war.”
King continued stating that his father operated off the power of love. Informing that “we must love our family, our community and have the love of God.”
“My dad loved people, it did not matter who you were,” said King. “But he certainly loved those who were suffering no matter what ethnicity they were and we need that kind of love today in the world.”
King encouraged everyone to learn how to appreciate life, referring back to a saying that his father often stated, “It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”
“Mankind can swim to sea like fish and fly through skies like birds, but with all of our technological advances we still have not mastered the basic concept of getting along with our brothers and sisters,” said King.
King ended by telling students no matter how difficult it may be they must continue their path of education, and to love one another.
“Today’s convocation was a great event,” said Inita Knox, a sophomore student from Palm Beach, Fla. “It was an honor to have Martin Luther King III to come and speak to the student body, as well as the community, giving us words of encouragement, so we can continue to serve our community and serve each other.”
Following King’s speech, Ammons awarded Reamonn Soto, a senior physics student from Tallahassee, Fla., the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Award for getting more than 3,500 students registered to vote in the Tallahassee and Leon County areas. Rev. Dr. Henry M. Steele, the son of civil rights activist C.K. Steele, received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award for his role as a human right advocate and community activist. Athena Griffith, a senior business administration student from Jacksonville, Fla. and the president of the Program Action Activities Council (PAAC), accepted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Organization Leadership Award on behalf of PAAC. The organization delivered 375 toys to the Boys and Girls Clubs in New Orleans for Christmas.
“I’m humbled by the gesture as well as honored,” said the Rev. Henry M. Steele. “When I first learned of the event (Martin Luther King Convocation), I was awestruck for the fact that Martin Luther King III was the speaker. I was taken back to a time when his parents would come and visit my family in Tallahassee. I would just sit at the dinner table listening to their words. This is truly a meaningful award after 51 years when we were involved in the lunch counter sit-in. It feels good to be recognized for it.”
FAMU’s band and concert choir opened the ceremony with the selection “Holy, Holy, Holy” before the Rev. James Hunt, director of FAMU's Campus Ministry, gave the invocation.
David Jackson, chair of FAMU Department of History, reminded the audience that King provided a voice for those without one.
“Let us also remember not to become complacent and to strive to be the best that we can be at this hour,” said Jackson. “That is what Dr. King did, and that is what he would want us all to do today; that’s our call to action.”
President James H. Ammons welcomed King highlighting his advocacy, humanity and accomplishments.
“We are honored to have with us Martin Luther King III, president and chief executive officer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence Social Change, a human rights advocate and community activist,” said Ammons. “Mr. King is the first to carryout the legacy of his parents. His work has propelled him to the forefront as one of the nation’s most ardent advocates for the poor, oppressed and disillusioned. Throughout the 1990s, King continued to fight for justice and has led protests against the bias digital divide in the fields of technology and has spoken to the United Nations on the behalf of individuals living with the challenges of AIDS.”
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