TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —
Florida A&M University (FAMU) paid homage to its past and celebrated its future during this year’s Founders’ Day celebration.
More than 700 members of the FAMU community, including students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, gathered in Lee Hall Auditorium to commemorate the university’s 126th anniversary.
“As we give thanks, let’s not focus solely on the founding teachers and administrators, but let’s acknowledge the students—for they were also the founders of this institution,” said Narayan Persaud, university trustee and president of the FAMU Faculty Senate.
FAMU was founded as the State Normal College for Colored Students, and on Oct. 3, 1887, it began classes with 15 students and two instructors. Today, FAMU, as it has become affectionately known, is the premier school among historically black colleges and universities.
“I stand before you today to pay homage to our ancestors past, the founders of this great institution who braved the odds and became oddly brave,” said FAMU Student Government Association President Anthony Siders. “I say oddly brave because they challenged their naysayers.”
Former FAMU President Walter L. Smith served as the keynote speaker. He spoke of FAMU’s previous leaders, athletes and students who went on to make monumental marks in the world.
“FAMU is so much and it has so much strength that you can’t even imagine,” said Smith, who is the founder of the Walter L. Smith Library in Tampa, Fla. “When you begin to look at all these great people, you say, ‘Wow, that’s FAMU history that grew from what these founders fought for.’ I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a part of the history of this institution.”
He also encouraged all the audience members to “take what you find and make it better.”
“We stood on the shoulders of giants,” said Smith, who was presented with the President’s Award by FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. “People have open ladders and we have gone step by step by step. People have built bridges. It didn’t just happen — it was made to happen.”
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Photo cutline (left to right): Three FAMU presidents gather to walk the memorial wreath to the Eternal Flame: Dr. Fred Gainous, Dr. Larry Robinson, and Dr. Walter L. Smith.