Forty years after the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., Florida Gov. Charlie Crist along with Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp spoke to Florida A&M University students and faculty regarding King’s dream.
The event was held in front of FAMU’s Black Archives.
King was assassinated April 4, 1968. The Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, Crist, Kottkamp and FAMU officials observed April 3 to stress the importance of King’s life.
Cynthia Hughes-Harris, FAMU provost, opened the event by introducing Crist and Kottkamp. Next, Hughes-Harris introduced Student Government Association President Monique Gillum. During her speech, Gillum reminded the audience that Kings’ dream still lives on.
“His dream, 40 years later, is still intact,” Gillum said.
After Gillum’s words, 2008-2009 SGA President-Elect Andrew Collins gave a brief biography of Kings’ life. Afterward, the crowd turned its attention to Crist.
Crist said it is important to remember April 3 because on that day King was still alive sharing his dream with others, making sure others understood how important it was to stand up for what they believed in. Crist said King always did so in a civil, dignified way.
“He (King) gave that great a speech (“I have a dream”) in Washington D.C. and we heard some of the lines eloquently recited here today so I will not attempt to do that again, except to say how powerful it is when somebody says they have a dream,” Crist said.
Crist went on to mention some of the reasons many people run for leadership positions.
“All of us have a dream,” Crist said. “All of us have a dream of a better life or a family, friends, love ones and that’s why the Lieutenant governor and I and all these wonderful people ran for office and I’m sure why your incoming president and outgoing student body president is too. They wanted to make a difference. We got elected to make a difference.”
Crist ended his speech by saying, “Dr. King really was a mentor to all of us. He lived his life to make sure other would have a better life.”
Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee city commissioner, gave a few comments on the event.
“I hope that all Floridians would pause to observe the importance of sacrifice. The 40 anniversary of Kings’ death, I think should symbolize for us, is sacrifice and the fact that he gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Gillum said.
Gillum commended Crist on his visit to FAMU.
“I think its another example of the governor’s interest and I think, commitment to this institution,” Gillum said. “He has already in his short tenure as governor, demonstration that he is in-tuned with the agenda of people at this university and those close to the university.”
Hughes-Harris ended the event with a quote from Dr. King.
“There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice. However, there is such a thing as freedom from exhaustion,” Hughes-Harris recited. “Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that their actions are morally right. Ladies and gentlemen, let us remember that we shall overcome.”