When Sierra Campbell heard a commercial for a Thursday party at Floyd’s Music Store targeting college students, she began thinking of the friends who would join her there that night. A radio ad on 104. 9 FM instructed Tallahassee’s college students to call a Floyd’s hotline for a special “buzz word” in order to receive free or discounted admission to the event.
That night Campbell and a few of her friends arrived at the night club only to find other FAMU students straggling out front.
“They said the buzz word was invalid to FAMU students,” said Campbell, 21, a second year pre-pharmacy candidate from Hollywood, Fla.
Campbell said that when she asked the Floyd’s employee manning the door why FAMU students were being turned away she was told that the “buzz word” promotion was only offered to Florida State and Tallahassee Community College students.
Later that week Campbell said she joined Monique Gillum, student body president and James Bland, student body vice president, in a meeting with Floyd’s owner, Charles Jacquet.
During the meeting Campbell said Jacquet explained the Thursday event was only promoted to FSU and TCC students and that the “buzz word” offer was meant to thank them for their patronage.
As news of the incident began to spread, students and members of the Tallahassee community became outraged. Campbell turned to Facebook, an online social network, to rally support for the protest of Floyd’s.
She was compelled to create a group called “Stop Supporting Businesses that Don’t Support FAMU,” after observing other practices at Floyd’s she considered to be targeting black patrons, including a ban on extra long t-shirts.
She recalls seeing a black male patron being turned away for violating the club’s dress code immediately after a similarly dressed white male was admitted without incident.
“I watched the whole thing. They were wearing the exact same thing and the black guy couldn’t get in,” Campbell said.
She has also stopped supporting California Chicken Grill and Jimmy Johns because of their hesitance to deliver to FAMU at night.
Her group, which now has nearly 1,000 members, is still gaining the attention of students who stand on both sides of the issue.
Campbell said that she hopes students will use the Floyd’s controversy as inspiration to take a stand against discrimination.
“We’re not asking for the special to be taken from anyone else, we’re asking to be raised to the same standard,” Campbell said. “It’s 2007 and I will not be the victim of discrimination.”
Following the meeting with Jacquet, FAMU SGA leaders met with students to hear their concerns and wrote an official letter to Floyd’s expressing the student body’s dissatisfaction with the club’s response. Several attempts were made to contact Jacquet or any other Floyd’s manager. At the time this article was printed, no response had been received.
“I didn’t want it to be swept under the rug,” Bland said. Ultimately, FAMU administrators suggested ending any boycott plans. Even without an official protest, FAMU students have continued to reject Floyd’s promotions on campus.
Bland said despite the decision not to boycott Floyd’s, he believes that FAMU students haven’t forgotten about the summertime incident. Several SGA officials said they have been contacted by students demanding Floyd’s posters and cup displays be removed.
“From what I’ve seen, our students still don’t support Floyd’s,” Bland said. FAMU has a long tradition of student activism in Tallahassee, with one of the most notable events, the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.
David Jackson, chair of the history and political science department, is supportive of the idea of activism. “Student activism is vitally important to the community,” Jackson said. “The biggest challenge is to get people to know about the issues. Once they do, they can respond.”
For Campbell, this issue is too big to ignore. Since the Floyd’s incident she has joined Vote Coalition, a local political awareness organization. And she continues to make students aware of issues affecting FAMU and the black community.
“If you care enough about something, other people who are ignorant to the fact will start to care too,” Campbell said.