Every pew at St. Mary’s Church was filled-not on the ideal Sunday, but on a Tuesday evening.
Students, politicians and various organizations gathered together to support the two-year remembrance of the One Florida Initiative Plan initiated by Gov. Jeb Bush.
One Florida Initiative included in its bill, among other factors the elimination of race and ethnicity as factors in university admissions.
The creation of the Talented 20 Program, which will guarantee the top 20 percent of students in Florida high school senior class state university admissions regardless of one SAT or ACT scores.
The proposed $20 million increased in need based financial aid.
The rally “One Florida: Results or Rhetoric”, sponsored by People For the American Way, FAMU SGA and the Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., emphasized the injustice in Florida’s voting systems, the upcoming voting conditions, and the charge to get registered and vote.
Sharon Lettman-Pacheco, Tallahassee director of People For the American Way and presider of the rally, pegged the program as a look into the “leadership of yesterday, the leadership of today and the leadership of tomorrow.” County Commissioner Bill Proctor, reflected on the injustice of present day voting and how it conflicts with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“… The only location which early voting will occur is at the Courthouse. There’s a problem there. We cannot have an early voting election in the Leon County Courthouse, that since the first of this year is fortified with armed guards.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act indicates that there is not supposed to be intimidation at the polls, but let me say to you many people perceive green and blue uniforms just as intimidating as any uniform. “
Mayor Scott Maddox compared the injustices of the past and the progress of the future regarding the leadership in Tallahassee.
“I’m happy in spite of it all,” Maddox said. “I see a city who once had a justice decree against the city government because it would not hire African Americans to a city that now has an African American city manager, police chief, airport director, public works director, gas director and is a monument not to color but to competence.”
Andrew Gillum, FAMU SGA President, explained that many races benefited from affirmative action.
“When we talk about affirmative action it’s not just black people that benefit,” Gillum said. “If we look at the numbers we’re actually at the lower end of the totem pole when it comes the beneficiary of affirmative action. We need to craft our picture, we’re crafting a picture of inclusion-not exclusion.”
Gillum , a graduating political science student from Gainesville, Fl., took advantage of the media on hand and expressed opinions on the upcoming FAMU commencement ceremony.
“We’ve been told that we may have a special guest at our graduation. Two-years ago we were on the front end fighting this particular graduation speaker. Since we have media in the house we definitely want to send a strong message that Florida A&M student graduates will not sit through a ceremony adorned by a governor that doesn’t support us.”
Hope Hampshire, recent Miss FAMU elect, explained, after the rally, the need to become active in voting.
“I think the rally gave students as well as the community to come in get some information on how things went in the past election and how we can control our fate in the upcoming election.”
Hampshire, 20, a junior history education student from Green Cove Springs, Fl. explained the power of staying ahead of political issues.
” It also gave us an opportunity to say ‘no more excuses’ we need to become pro-active instead of reactive as far as our government and our politicians.”
Alec Baldwin, actor, civic activist and guest speaker at the rally explained the importance of college students getting involved in the voting process.
“College is a time for you to luxuriate-something that most older adults never seem to have enough time for-and that’s time to think. Thinking, you are in college to think and develop your ability. One of the topics that I hope and pray you will devote some of your talent of thinking toward is what kind of country…do you want to inherit? Do you want the form of government we call democracy to continue? If you do…then you got some serious work ahead of you in the state of Florida.”
Nasya Ezell, 20, second year candidate pharmacy student from Pensacola, Fl., stresses education as that students and the community are lacking in regards to voting.
“I think it’s important and crucial that all of us understand what’s going on around us. We, not only the students at the university but the community needs to be educated on what’s going on around us.”