Speaking to a crowd of students, faculty, alumni, and for the first time FAMU DRS students, Jonathan Quarles, president of the university chapter of the NAACP set the tone for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation.
“We have not come to mourn the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, but to rededicate ourselves to his vision.”
Held in Gaither Gymnasium, convocation featured performances by the Symphonic Band and the University Concert Choir.
In tribute to one of King’s most remembered speeches, James Moran delivered a stirring recitation of the “I Have A Dream Speech,” first delivered at the March on Washington in 1963.
Sen. Al Lawson, an alumnus was the event speaker. He urged students to remember those whose efforts opened doors of opportunities for blacks.
“I’m convinced that from 1968, when we walked these hills, that we are standing on the shoulders of the great professors before us.”
Lawson, who was on the basketball and track teams during his matriculation here, began his speech sharing with the audience the campus atmosphere on April 4, 1968, the day King was assassinated. He said feelings of not knowing what to do resulted in students’ anger.
“We decided to take action against anyone we thought needed taking action against,” he said. “We were going to turn the city out.”
Realizing they couldn’t compete with the local authorities, Lawson said, the students retreated and found other ways to deal with their anger.
“We want you to understand the movement Dr. King was caught up in,” Lawson said. “We’ve come a long way, but we haven’t come far enough. Get up, get involved, be counted.”
Lawson urged students to “share with the younger generations the inspiration that our elders gave us.”
Also during the program, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership award was presented to Lucille Williams, a former principal of Bond Elementary School whose mother was a graduate of the first graduating class of FAMCEE.
Roosevelt Wilson, publisher and owner of Capital Outlook newspaper, and a journalism professor at FAMU, also received the award.
Larry O. Rivers, supervisor of the Ochlocknee River Soil and Water Conservation, District IV, received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Award and gave an emotional receptance speech in which he declared “FAMU must live forever!” Rivers, 21, is a senior broadcast journalism student from Tallahassee.
“I still believe in the FAMU of Thomas DeSalle Tucker and Thomas Gibbs,” he said. “I believe FAMU is a dream come true.”