The 2004 Florida A&M University homecoming weekend officially kicked off with the All-University Homecoming Convocation in Gaither Gymnasium Friday.
Enthusiasm was high among the audience filled with students, FAMU alumni and government officials. For many FAMU grads, the convocation was a special event because it gave them the opportunity to see the school spirit they once possessed still living in a new generation of Rattlers.
“This is my first homecoming in about 25 years, and it just feels good to see the University striving and going strong,” said Robert Lampkin of the class of 1969.
The proceedings began shortly after 10 a.m. with a brief prayer by James L. Morgan of the College of Pharmacy. The FAMU concert choir followed the prayer with a rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
SGA President Virgil Miller was the first speaker to address the crowd. Miller began by acknowledging the members of the FAMU Board of Trustees that were in attendance. In the speech, Miller stressed the importance of giving back to the University as graduates. He also urged the audience to take advantage of their voting rights in the tightly contested presidential election early next month.
Mr. and Miss FAMU Ryan Morand and Brooke Smith introduced the newly crowned Royal Court and their escorts to the audience.
Following a musical selection by the “Marching 100,” University President Fred Gainous took the stage to introduce the keynote speaker.
Gainous was met with mixed emotions, with many greeting him with a standing ovation, as he addressed the audience for what could be his last convocation as FAMU president.
FAMU alumna Gwendolyn Felder admitted she was not in Gainous’ corner as far as him being president but thought he should have had more time as president to show his leadership abilities.
“How can you make changes and show any real improvement in such a short manner of time,” said Felder, a 1981 graduate of the school of nursing.
Oklahoma State Representative Kevin Cox delivered the keynote speech. Cox a 1972 graduate of FAMU’s political science program started his speech by acknowledging one of his former professors who was in attendance.
Cox then told the crowd of his overwhelming fear of flying, the method of travel that he was forced to use in order to get to Tallahassee. However, he stated he would do anything for FAMU.
Cox entertained the audience with humorous tales of his days as a freshman in Sampson hall.
The main points of the speech were loyalty to the University and each and every student doing their personal best.
Concluding his speech, Cox spoke of the controversy that the school is facing in terms of the termination of Gainous’ contract. Calling Gainous to his side, Cox said that in the time that he has known the president, Gainous has been, “a man of principle and stature.”
Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum said he thought the keynote speech was inspiring.
“I felt that it was a heartfelt message that reminded Rattlers of old of their experiences here at Florida A&M University, while at the same time it encouraged and reminded us of our responsibilities to this great institution,” said Gillum, a former SGA president.
Head football coach Billy Joe fired up the audience with passionate rhetoric about curing all of the team’s ills with a win on Saturday. Introducing the football team by position, Joe reassured the crowd the football team is ready to get back to it’s usual winning ways.
In the closing speech, President Gainous expressed his love for the school.
Gainous said that the future of FAMU is bright because of its strong faculty and student body.
Contact Anthony Moore at email@example.com.