On Monday, the students, faculty and administration of FAMU gathered in Perry Paige Auditorium to mourn the loss, and to celebrate the life of one of their own.
Justin Applewhite, a native of Memphis, Tenn. and a student of FAMU, died in a car crash on Route 55 between Como and Batesville, Miss., on June 25. The friends and family of Applewhite and the Sophomore Class Cabinet sponsored the memorial, which was aimed at highlighting his accomplishments, and expressing the impact he made in only a short time at FAMU.
Alvis Applewhite, Justin Applewhite’s mother, traveled on short notice from Memphis to attend the event. She said she thinks about her only son “three to four times a day,” but she had been able to press on by keeping herself busy.
Alvis Applewhite shared a number of fond memories that she held of Justin Applewhite, including one about his enthusiasm for cars and electronics.
“He put his full effort into whatever he put his hands on.”
Throughout the service, Justin Applewhite was commended for his immense school spirit, and his mother noted this when addressing the audience.
Alvis Applewhite said that although she graduated from Mississippi Valley State, her son’s undying love for FAMU rubbed off on her.
“I feel like I’ll always be a Rattler,” Alvis Applewhite said.
Members of the 34th Student Senate stood in front of the audience to show their support for the Applewhite family and to express their respect for Justin Applewhite.
Senate Pro-Tempore Jessica Larche spoke of the impact that Justin’s spirit made on on her and those around her.
“On behalf of the 34th Student Senate we’d like to thank Alvis Applewhite for bringing this miracle to FAMU,” Larche said.
The Sophomore Class Cabinet announced that, in collaboration with friends of Justin, a scholarship has been created for students in the sophomore class.
Each year a student will have their books provided by the scholarship fund.
Sophomore Class President Phillip Agnew recalled the lessons that he learned from Justin in life and in his death.
Agnew remembered that Justin would always joke with him whenever they met until he left with a smile.
“Justin taught me to live for the day, and his death made me reevaluate my life,” Agnew said.
Agnew also performed a rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the alto saxophone in Justin’s memory.
Members of the Strike Team and Boyz of Poison, two organizations that Justin belonged to, made video presentations.
Both videos featured organization members recalling their memories of Justin and wishing him farewell.
Chyealla Savage and Anthony Smiley, Justin’s girlfriend and close friend, respectively, spoke during a portion of the memorial titled “Justin As We Knew Him.” Smiley told the audience of the charm and humor that Justin showed when meeting his family for the first time.
“Believe me, my family doesn’t like everybody, but on that day Justin found a second mother,” Smiley said.
Savage spoke fondly of the times that she and Justin shared during their freshman year.
She remembered the occasions when the two of them, along with their friends, would play games or have dinner, calling them “great times.”
With a smile, Savage said that she would never forget Justin, and would always cherish the joy that she had from sharing time with him. “The person he was always made you smile,”
President Fred Gainous said that he remembered the first time that he and Justin met.
“I was impressed by his great spirit,” Gainous said.
Gainous commended Applewhite for her resilience during her time of mourning, and assured her and the audience that ” Justin was and will always be a member of the FAMU family.”
Contact Steven Jumper at firstname.lastname@example.org.