|FAMU President James H. Ammons (left) presents Elder Ernest Ferrell, president of the National Primitive Baptist Convention and the Tallahassee Urban League, with the President’s Award for serving as the Martin Luther King Convocation speaker.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The frigid morning air did not stop students, faculty, staff and members of the community from arriving at the Jake Gaither Gymnasium for Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Annual Martin L. King Jr. Convocation.
The Convocation featured Elder Ernest Ferrell, president of the National Primitive Baptist Convention and the Tallahassee Urban League, as the keynote speaker.
In honor of its namesake, the MLK convocation commemorates the legacy of King’s triumphs in civil rights and honors campus and community leaders for personifying his dream.
According to the Charles Evans, Ph.D., associate dean for the FAMU School of Business and Industry (SBI) and the event’s master of ceremonies, this year’s observance held a special significance. Next month, will be the centennial anniversary of the NAACP, of which Evans has been the president of the Tallahassee Branch.
Evans along with three others received the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award. The other recipients and awards were: Charles U. Smith, professor emeritus of sociology, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award; Andrew Collins, FAMU SGA President, recipient of the MLK Student Leadership Award; and the FAMU Student Vote Coalition, the recipient of the MLK Organization Award.
Evans has dedicated his career to shaping the lives of young men and women in the School of Business and Industry. In addition, his contributions span decades of service to the larger community as he served as president of the Tallahassee Branch of the NAACP for some 12 years, ending his tenure December 31, 2008.
Smith’s lifelong commitment to civil rights is chronicled through his writings on protests, the cost of segregation and how United States race relations have shaped our thinking and public policy. A distinguished sociologist, he is an academic leader and mentor to thousands of students who have gone on to become outstanding community leaders. He has also lead initiatives through the court system and locally that afforded great opportunities to all. Dr. Charles U. Smith has written numerous articles in scholarly journals and is author of “The Civil Rights Movement in Florida and the United States: Historical and Contemporary Perspective.”
Collins motivated thousands of FAMU students to action. His calm, yet persuasive manner motivated students to action during the march to the polls on October 20, 2008 for early voting.
The FAMU Vote Coalition received the award for organizing the initiative to help students register to vote. The voter turnout at FAMU during the recent elections was phenomenal. According to the Leon County Elections Office at the FAMU Grand Ballroom precinct, 76.8 percent of Famuans voted, in addition to the large numbers of students who marched to the courthouse to officially cast their vote.
Ferrell told the crowded Gaither Gym that although King is not with us today his dream lives on.
“We miss his courageous leadership and his tenacity,” he said. “But although the dreamer is dead, the dream is indeed alive, and it lives in each and everyone of you.”
Ferrell said King’s dream brought to life many of the proud historical contributions made by FAMU students, citing the march to the Capitol in reaction to the One Florida Plan and the death of Martin Lee Anderson.
He said that the dream has come a long way since the 1960s, and today everyone, black and white, can benefit from it.
“What you should take away and learn from this is to document your own history,” Ferrell said. “Hip-Hop, like Bee-Bop will pass and reality T.V. and today’s popular musicians will fade, just like those of my time. Yet, all we can do is be ready to document our own history when the call for leadership presents itself.”
The audience cheered in reaction to Ferrell’s speech and Ammons awarded Ferrell the President’s Award for his keynote address.
In honor of the NAACP’s 100th anniversary, Calvin Hayes, president of the FAMU chapter of the NAACP, presented two $100 book scholarships to Rachel Hill and Francis Agama, who both are FAMU students.
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