History isn’t created while standing still, a former Student Government Association President told an audience at convocation Friday.
“We don’t have time to stand still,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Art Collins. “As the circle of life moves around, you must move.”
In his speech, Collins cited several figures in black history who “didn’t have time to stand still. Revolt leaders Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner, entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, activists Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, composers Duke Ellington and Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton didn’t have time to stand still.
“We have not and we will not stand still,” he said. “Blacks killed by violence on the street or suicide in a jail cell, those are by products of standing still.”
Collins urged the audience to look within themselves to continue the legacy of black history.
“Take the baton of leadership,” he said. “Chart a path of greatness and let God lead you to excellence.”
Collins is a 1982 FAMU graduate. He is currently president and CEO of Public Private Partnership Inc., a government and corporate affairs consulting firm. He was chosen as the keynote speaker when the originally scheduled guest was unable to attend.
Culturally driven performances also highlighted the Black History Convocation.
The FAMU Symphonic Band performed “Africa: Ceremonial Song and Ritual,” a thunderous, mighty composition that captured the fervent spirit of a people and a country.
Orchesis Dance Theatre expanded black history to global stage as they performed “Rainbow at Midnight,” a flamenco piece. The theatre’s percussionist Olusegun explained that flamenco dance is oiginally from Ghana, Africa and spread to Spain through the Moors of North Africa.
Students who attended convocation came away inspired and uplifted.
Michelle Valentine, 26, a junior English education student from Portland, Jamaica, said there was nothing about convocation she didn’t enjoy. She said she enjoyed the musical selections the most and appreciated the keynote address.
“It made me think,” she said. “It gave me insight about contributions made that I wasn’t aware of.”
Valentine said that a common idea among students attending one convocation is like attending them all. While she said she has yet to form an opinion, she will most likely attend another one.
Oshia Gainer, 20, a junior political science student from Miami, said that not many students attend convocation because they like a day off, butshe would like to see more students in attendance.
Gainer said she most enjoyed the comments from Florida Representive Loranne Ausley. Ausley, who is white, talked about what black history month
meant to her, and shared how landmark events in black history affected her.
“It enabled us as a people and a student body to see the civil rights
movement from another perspective.”