Before someone can have a dream, he or she must know his or her reality. It was the message the Honorable judge Glenda Hatchett, host of the nationally syndicated “Judge Hatchett” television show, was trying to convey to those in attendance at the 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. convocation.
“There’s a dream with your name on it, but what is your reality?” she asked the audience at Thursday’s convocation.
Hatchett tried to stay away from the typical “I Have A Dream” speech given to commemorate the anniversary of the slain civil rights leader’s birth.
“They always talk about King’s dream but I’m not going to go there today,” she said.
The dream, Hatchett said, framed a vision.
“But the reality is going to define our destiny,” she continued.
Hatchett delivered a crowd-rousing speech that soon turned into a church sermon – using an organ as background music.
Hatchett commanded all attention from the moment she took the stage.
“Facing the rising sun of a new day begun, eyes have not seen and ears have not heard the power of the potential that is among us,” Hatchett said.
Hatchett acknowledged the Rev. R. B. Holmes, whom she referred to as “my pastor when I’m in Tallahassee.” She also mentioned her son, who graduated from FAMU in 2003.
“I’m a momma of a Rattler,” she said. “So FAMU has a special place in my heart.”
Hatchett mentioned some of the cases she witnessed as a juvenile court judge. The first was the story of a 15-year-old girl who, after being raped and beaten as a part of a gang initiation, had to finish by killing someone. She said she had to take a recess into her office, where she did something she doesn’t do often – cry.
“The real reason I cried was the person she was ordered to kill was her own mother,” she said.
The second story was about an 8-year-old boy whose mother had abandoned him. The mother, who was a drug addict, told Hatchett the boy was too old for adoption.
Hatchett said she told the mother, “I will come down off this bench and I will kick you’re a**.”
The crowd, who before sat with open mouths and attentive eyes, stood up, clapped and laughed.
Then, Hatchett told the audience many of the alarming statistics that plague the black community.
“One of our young men is being murdered every two hours,” she said. “Every two days, a black boy commits suicide.”
According to Hatchett, one out of 34 black men is in some type of special education class, one out of every six black men drops out of school, and one out of 20 black men will be incarcerated in his 20s. She also said drugs are just another form of slavery in which people “traded in a white master for a white powder.”
By the end of her speech, Hatchett grabbed the microphone off its stand and began walking around shouting “you’ve got to run on my brothers and sisters.”
Hatchett ended her speech saying, “Facing the rising sun of a new day begun, let us run on and on and on ’til victory is won.”
Student Government Association President and Trustee Virgil Miller, who administered the welcome, asked, “Can a life of fighting for liberty and equality be summed up in one day?”
“The answer,” Miller said, “is simple. It can not.”
Therefore, Miller said, the convocation was not only a moment of celebration, but also one of rededication.
Many students in the crowd had questionable facial expressions and smirked when the white Rev. David Ward of Ambassadors for Christ approached the lectern to deliver the invocation, or prayer.
While most of the crowd bowed their heads, Ward referred to the second chapter of Ephesians and said “Faith in God is more important than color and ethnic background.”
After the singing of the “Lift Every Voice and Sing” hymn, SGA Vice President Keneisha Grant gave the occasion, which, she said, was commemoration.
As Marching 100 associate director Charles Bing prepared to present the special salute to King, he acknowledged Interim President Bryant noting that it was her first convocation.
Students immediately clapped their hands.
Professor James Moran, who, along with music by the FAMU Symphonic Band, made a special salute to King with his rendition of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, received an automatic standing ovation.
To some, the speech was moving.
“If that didn’t send a chill through your body, I don’t know what will,” Alexander said.
Students who gathered in Gaither Gymnasium for the all-University convocation, which was the first of the semester, seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
“I felt moved by everything,” said Candace Hylton, 18, a freshman elementary education student from Orlando.
“It (Hatchett’s speech) brought tears to my eyes.”
Contact Diamond Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.