“The Black Church” was this year’s theme for the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation. Local black churches and organizations were honored for their roles during the civil rights movement.
The religious tone was set before the program began when the symphonic band played “We Fall Down.”
Tricia Collins, 18, computer information systems student from Fort Lauderdale said, “hearing this song makes me think of the struggle that King and other blacks had to go through.
“I have a feeling that this convocation is going to be like a Church service.”
Rev. R. B. Holmes Jr., pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and a member of the FAMU Board of Trustees, was the keynote speaker.
Holmes’ speech was built around remembering black churches during the civil rights movement.
“The black church is where we learned to stand up for freedom, life and liberty,” Holmes said. “If it were not for the black church and the black community, there would be no civil rights movement.”
April Grubb, 18, a nursing student from Orlando said that she really appreciated how Holmes showed the importance of the role of the black church.
“I liked when he said that we need to abandon the attitude of separation of church and state because if it were not for the church I would not have my freedom,” Grubb said. “I can only imagine that for blacks, the church was a dwelling place for worship and for inspiration during the civil rights era.”
Holmes received a standing ovation when he finished with “If You Pray and Do the Right Thing, the Lord Will Bless You.”
Interim President Henry Lewis III, presented Rev. Ernest Ferrell, the president and CEO of the Tallahassee Urban League and pastor of the St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award.
Ferrell said that blacks need to become more invigorated to continue living out the dream, because the struggle is still not over.
Jonathan Quarles, second year business student and vice president of the FAMU chapter of the NAACP was presented for the first time in FAMU’s history with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Award.
Quarles said to the crowd, “I am very honored to receive this award and I hope to see you all at the top.”
After the singing of the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” Lewis closed the program by reading Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned to one another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.”