– Florida A&M University (FAMU) students, faculty, staff and guests gathered at the Eternal Flame at the campus quadrangle to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. The distinguished speakers spoke of personal experiences with segregation and current reflections of the work still left to conquer. The resounding theme was clear: Student activism is key.
“Fifty years ago, a group of people marched so that we could have an opportunity to run,” said FAMU Student Government Association President Anthony Siders. “It is important to carry out that legacy as young FAMUans and as the no. 1 HBCU in the nation. It’s important to understand what took place yesterday and not let it be a moment, but a movement.”
Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum agrees. As a former FAMU SGA president, he felt compelled upon graduation to continue his activism into the local community, becoming at the age of 23 the youngest person ever elected to the Tallahassee City Commission.
“We still have a dream to strive for today,” stated Gillum. “This is an important day and they will say that we made a significant contribution to change the trajectory of young people in this country.”
A single chair draped with a black satin wreath stood in honor of the late professor Charles Evans, who planned to speak at the event before his passing on August 21. His wife, Connie Evans, spoke about their experiences at the March on Washington and how students have always been the key to social change.
“We marched to have access to places we couldn’t frequent, such as ice cream parlors, clothing stores, places like that where you were treated differently as a black person,” said Evans. “We were high school and college students and we didn’t have to worry about a job or getting fired. It was important for us and for America.”
The celebration continues during the week at FAMU’s Coleman Library. Visitors may listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech and read books by and about Martin Luther King, Jr. by visiting the Heritage Room, 412 Coleman Library Annex. For more information, please call (850) 599-3330.
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Photo Cutline: Connie Evans, wife of the late Charles Evans, shares memories of attending the March on Washington 50 years ago. Pictured L to R: Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, Connie Evans, and Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor.