Darlene Clark Hine encouraged the “modern civil rights” generation to take advantage of affirmative action and reparations at Thursday’s annual Black History Month Convocation.
“America has a tremendous debt, and black people are going to collect,” said Hine, keynote speaker at the convocation and the John A. Hannah american history professor at Michigan State University.
Larry O. Rivers, student government association deputy chief of staff, advised Rattlers to “stand up and be counted.”
“None of us are self-made,” said the 21-year-old senior public relations student. “Sacrifices were made before us, and history tells people where they still must go, and where they still must be.”
David Jackson, associate professor of history, said it is important to learn black history and use it within the community.
“History shows that it does not matter who is in power; those who do not learn from the past are doomed to fail,” Jackson said. “We need to give back to the community. If we do not do it for ourselves, no one will do it for us.”
Hine also presented historical information about the black professional class.
“Blacks decided that they needed to create this class as an institutional infrastructure to ensure the survival of black people in this era,” Hine said. “This class, consisted of black physicians, nurses, and lawyers, aided in attacking what is known as white supremacy.”
Humanities professor Andreia Thraxton said Hine’ message was applicable to students across the nation.
“Hine’s speech today was relevant considering what’s going on with the affirmative action situation at the University of Michigan. The case has a tremendous impact on many African-American students,” she said.
Performances by the FAMU Gospel Choir, symphonic band and Orchesis Dance Theatre set the mood for black history appreciation.
A presentation was made to Malcolm Glover, winner of the Florida Institute for Leadership Excellence’s Black History Essay contest. The university was awarded $25,000 from Wachovia Bank. Trustee James Corbin accepted the award on behalf of President Fred Gainous.
Joseph Royster, a junior computer information science student from Daytona Beach, said he left the convocation with more than he came with.
“I had forgotten some things that were important, and it awakened old feelings,” Royster said. “It gave me drive and a sense of heritage.”
Aricka M. Foreman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.