The gospel praises, modeling troupe performances and giveaway of school supplies all set the tone for Rattler Appreciation Day, but the guest speaker, Rev. Al Sharpton, added the finishing touch to a special day at FAMU.
Sharpton, who was in Tallahassee Wednesday, delivered an impromptu speech about the importance of voting. Sharpton is on the Truth-Hamer Initiative Tour traveling throughout Florida with stops in Gainesville, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville and Tallahassee to promote voting.
“Since the Republican Party is having their convention, I decided to return to the scene of the crime where we all know the Republicans stole the election in 2000,” Sharpton said. He was referring to the last presidential election when Florida had to recount its votes and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately resolved the controversy.
Sharpton said there is a plan to rally 10,000 men to be placed at the polls in Florida to protect voters’ rights. He added that young voters are the ones who should be heard in this election.
“They are the leaders of tomorrow,” Sharpton said.
Winning this election could make Barack Obama, D-Ill., the only black in the Senate, he said.
Several students listened closely as Sharpton also spoke about the future Supreme Court justices who will be chosen by the next president.
“I am glad Sharpton came to talk about the importance of voting,” said Kori Scott, 21, graduate business administration student from Columbia, Md. “He really made it clear that this election is much deeper than Bush versus Kerry. It’s about who has the best practices and policies.”
Support is the key to allowing blacks to position themselves to choose between the two candidates, Sharpton said.
“If we support a progressive person who will bring about issues that aid our benefit, then the opposition has no choice but to speak upon issues that relate to us,” Sharpton said. “Even when we may theoretically lose, sometimes we really win.”
Student Government Association President Virgil Miller said this was great for the campus for two reasons.
“Students got the opportunity to see a national figure that understands the power and importance of the student body at FAMU,” Miller said. “He said to show that even when you are on a national level expressing the need to go vote and being registered hopefully will drive more students to vote.”
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