|FAMU President James H. Ammons (left) presents Senator Al Lawson with the President’s Award for serving as the Founders Day Convocation speaker.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Latecomers to the annual Florida A&M University (FAMU) Founder’s Day Convocation were seated in the balcony of Lee Hall Auditorium, which eventually became filled to capacity.
FAMU trailblazers like Aubrey M. Perry, professor of psychology emeritus and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Rev. Bernyce Clausell, Ph.D., pastor emeritus; and Alan Williams, president of the Leon County Chapter of the National Alumni Association (NAA), were among the many in attendance to celebrate FAMU’s 121st anniversary.
The FAMU wind ensemble greeted guest as they entered and after an invocation by Rev. Clausell, Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., vice chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT); Tommy Mitchell, of the FAMU NAA; and Andrew Collins, president of the FAMU Student Government Association (SGA) and member of the FAMU BOT delivered greetings.
Following the occasion by Jeremy Mounticure, president of the FAMU National Pan-Hellenic Council and former Mr. FAMU, Williams and Leila Walker, president of the Capital City Chapter of the FAMU NAA, recited the Rekindling of the Flame.
After a musical selection by the FAMU concert choir, FAMU President James H. Ammons introduced the keynote speaker for the commemorative event, Senator Alfred “Al” Lawson.
“Senator Lawson has been a champion for the underserved in our community and the state and has helped FAMU to grow and prosper,” said Ammons. “We thank Senator Lawson for his continuous support of FAMU.”
Ammons also mentioned how Lawson was instrumental in providing $21 million for the renovation of FAMU’s Tucker Hall; $43 million for the construction of the new teaching gym; $14 million for the new University Commons; $20.4 million for the renovation of the Gore Education Complex; $11 million for the renovation of Jones Hall; $30 million for the construction of the new FAMU Developmental Research School; and $33 million for the construction of the Phase II for the new pharmacy building.
Lawson, FAMU alum and a former FAMU basketball player, told the packed Lee Hall how being back on campus reminds him of the struggle its forefathers endured so that so many could profit.
Recalling a time when the very auditorium the crowd sat in was unable to be used and the day that FAMU became the first Historical Black College or University (HBCU) to become part of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Lawson said FAMU indeed has and will continue to flourish—even in the darkest of times.
In closing, Lawson referenced a popular gospel song by musical artist Marvin Sapp.
“Why does FAMU mean so much to be? It’s simple,” said Lawson. “It’s because I never would have made it. I never would have made it without FAMU.”
Ammons presented Lawson with the President’s Award for serving as the Founders Day speaker and for honoring the audience with his inspiring words.
Members of the audience really enjoyed Senator Lawson’s message.
“I really enjoyed this year's Founders Day Convocation,” said Demetria Henderson, a junior psychology student. “It is nice to know and hear from people who care about the university and its heritage. To
hear Senator Lawson, someone who is so successful, talk about how he never would have made it without FAMU was nothing short of inspiring.”
To close the program, Walter L. Smith, Ph.D., and Fred Ganious Ed.D., former FAMU presidents, joined Ammons in the recommitment ceremony.
“On this day, October 3, 2008, we pray for strength, perseverance, and at least 121 more years to come,” said Ammons. “Let us remember to look to the establishment of Florida A&M University and its founders for inspiration, wisdom and power as we endeavor to face all the challenges with the same spirit of our great legacy.”
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