Students eagerly lined the walls, filled the seats and sat on the floor of the auditorium on Wednesday forcing officials to close the doors to those still waiting outside.
And surprisingly it wasn’t a dance group or talent show that filled up Lee Hall 30 minutes before the event began…it was Cornel West.
Forums and big events involving lectures and panels have created large student turnouts this year, expressing the need for more events like Wednesday’s on campus.
But I’m not sure if a large turnout means students are taking the knowledge to change themselves and FAMU afterwards.
Did the throng of students really know why they came to hear West speak?
Maybe it was because SGA publicized the event well and it seemed as if “everyone” was going.
All week, a number of students I encountered said, “I’m going to see Cornel West,” but many also asked, “Who is he? What does he do?”
Although a lot of students entered the event unsure of what they would receive, West stated his purpose early. He wanted to leave those in the audience a little disturbed-and pondering about what he said later.
West emphasized stripping away the facades and masks that look pretty on the outside to evaluate the true person on the inside.
Rebirth can only occur when you ask yourself “who am I really?” and ponder if you like what you’ve become, he said.
His main theme was that you can only make a difference once you evaluate and change yourself for the better. The speech inspired me to look at myself and at the state of FAMU.
West received a long standing ovation at the end and students seemed to clap at the right moments.
But when I left Lee Hall amid the crowd of students in a positive and enlightened atmosphere I wondered why it takes an event like this for serious discussion about issues to occur on campus on a large scale?
There should be more settings for intellectual conversation and speeches on campus because college is more than the classroom and parties-it’s about learning something while you’re here.
Sometimes FAMU can become a bubble for students and they lose a sense of awareness about the various problems of the outside world.
I just want students to apply the knowledge imparted by speakers and the experiences they encounter during their years here to make them do what West said.
Improve themselves and then improve the world.
And more events like this are needed because if we aren’t learning about the past and current issues of black people at an HBCU, why are we here?
Ebonie Ledbetter is a sophomore newspaper journalism student from Atlanta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org