“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may be gone but his dream is still alive,” keynote speaker Elder Ernest Ferrell said as Florida A&M University celebrated King’s 80th birthday Thursday for convocation.
Faculty, students and friends gathered in the Gaither gymnasium for an occasion Ferrell said “was ordained” by God as the first black president will be in office in less than a week.
Ferrell, the president of the Tallahassee Urban League and pastor of the local Saint Mary Primitive Baptist Church in Tallahassee said, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together,” Ferrell as he referenced King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He said the results of the dream are evident as president-elect Barack Obama will be the first black president.
“This is something that many of us, even in our wildest dreams never thought we would see,” said David Jackson, chairman of FAMU’s history department.
Dale Landry, newly elected president of Tallahassee’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the timing is divine as the NAACP celebrates its centennial year of activism around Obama’s election.
“I don’t accept this as chance,” said Landry. “The way the days are picked is God.”
In honor of the NAACP’s 100th year, Rachel Hill, 22, a graduate business administration student from Orlando and Frances Agama, 29, a graduate biochemistry student from Guyana received scholarships for exemplified leaderships and dedication in the community.
Student body president Andrew Collins, 23, a business administration student from Atlanta, received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Leadership Award.
Charles Evans, former president for the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP, received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award. Charles C.U. Smith, professor emeritus of sociology, received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award
“True service entails sacrificing and fighting for beliefs and so many people give of themselves everyday and it goes unrecognized,” Collins said.
He also said that FAMU epitomizes what King and Obama represent since they dedicated their lives to those who depend on them.
Jackson said King’s version of civil rights was not afraid and was willing to speak out and challenge the status quo.
“Unfortunately people today, 40 years after his assassination are eager to accept this passive version, they find that this dress down fantasized version of the man could be more credible, because they don’t know history,” Jackson said. “Even with this ostentatious example of progress, King would not want us to be fooled into thinking that all of our problems are going to disappear just because we have an African-American president.”
As the FAMU band and concert choir synonymously played and sang “We Shall Overcome,” a reminder of the 44th president’s accomplishment in black history rang in the ears of attendees.
“We have come a long way because Obama was voted based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin,” said Jackson.