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FAMU Alumni Continue to Raise the Bar Within the Florida Legislature
July 11, 2013

Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, recently made history when she became the first African-American woman to ever serve as the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. She will only be the second woman to ever serve in this position.

     “I’m very proud of the confidence my fellow Senate Democrats have placed in me,” said Joyner, who will serve for the 2014-2016 legislative term. “It’s an honor to be named the designated leader of such a hardworking, motivated group of individuals. All of us are determined to do our best for the people of Florida.”
The Florida Conference of Black State Legislators recently elected Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, as chair of the Florida Black Caucus, an organization dedicated to championing issues and legislation of importance to the black community throughout Florida.

“It’s an awesome experience to lead what is the third largest bipartisan caucus in the Florida Legislature,” Williams said. “As we live in the age of the (Barack) Obama presidency, I believe our caucus has the unique position to champion many of the ideas and policy initiatives of the president here in Florida.”

An attorney, Joyner was first elected to the Senate in 2006, and served as minority leader pro tempore in the 2010-2012 legislative term. She also served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2006. Throughout her decades of public service, Joyner has been internationally recognized as a tireless advocate for human and civil rights, including a 1995 appointment by President Bill Clinton as a member of the United States Delegation for the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. She has also received numerous awards and recognitions for her work as an attorney and lawmaker.

Joyner received her undergraduate and law degrees from FAMU. She has been practicing law longer than any black female attorney in the history of Florida.

    “My seven years of study at Florida A&M University shaped me and directed my career path to public service, including my election to the Senate, and, ultimately, my selection as Democratic leader designate for 2014-2016,” she said. “Growing up in a period of emerging civil rights activism, I was aware of the critical importance of engaging in the political process as a means of achieving equality and opportunity for everyone. The values I developed at FAMU, and the lessons I learned, have stayed with me over the years, guiding my work on behalf of the communities I represent and issues for which I continue to advocate.”

Williams was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in November 2008 and represents parts of Leon and Gadsden counties. He says he is looking forward to transitioning the Caucus to being more proactive on legislation and issues affecting the state, as well as guaranteeing everyone is truly benefiting from the “Florida experience.”
“I hope our many constituents will say that they are better served because of the work we do each and every day as state representatives and senators in the Florida Legislature,” he said.

Williams graduated from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in 1998 and a master’s in business administration in 2003 from the FAMU School of Business and Industry.

There are currently seven FAMU alumni in the Florida Legislature — a feat Williams says is a result of the university’s impact on the state.  

“Having so many Rattlers in the Florida Legislature shows that the preparation that we had at Florida A&M University is paying off — not only for the university but for the constituents we serve,” Williams said. “I believe we are a continuation of the great leadership that has come from FAMU alumni for the past 125 years.”

Additional FAMUans in Florida Legislature are:
•    Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami;
•    Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary;
•    Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville;
•    Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park; and
•    Rep. Bobby Powell- D-Riviera Beach.

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